2018 Medicare Changes and How They Affect You
What are the 2018 Medicare Changes? How do the changes in Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans affect you? By October 1st, all Medicare beneficiaries should have received the 2018 Medicare & You guide in the mail. These guides are sent to those currently enrolled in Medicare. 2018 Medicare changes are listed in the guide. When more 2018 Medicare changes become available, the pdf version will be updated. If you are on a Medicare Advantage plan, you will receive a document entitled “Annual Notice of Changes for 2018” or your plan’s “Evidence of Coverage”. You receive this if you are enrolled in a 2017 Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription drug plan that will continue to be available in 2018.
It is critically important that you read over these notices well before December 7th. We realize most beneficiaries will not read the entire 200+ page document, which is why we educate beneficiaries on how to use it as a reference tool. After reviewing these documents, if you like your current plan, you do not need to do anything to stay actively enrolled.
Here are the five things we suggest doing during Medicare Open Enrollment season to decide whether or not you are happy with your plan:
- Ask yourself (or an advisor at Senior Financial Group) which plan changes apply to you.
It is important to review your coverage now to make sure it will meet your needs next year. Do the changes affect the services you use or will potentially use? To do this easily and quickly, first go to the table of contents. It is usually in the first few pages of the book. Locate the section dedicated to the “Medical Benefits Chart” typically found in Chapter 4.
- Check the booklet for any changes to prescription drug coverage to see if they affect you.
Here are some good questions to ask regarding your prescription drug coverage:
- Will your drug(s) still be covered?
- Are your drugs on a different tier with different cost sharing?
- Do any of your drugs have new restrictions like needing approval from the plan before you fill the prescription?
- Can you continue using the same pharmacies?
Again, refer to your table of contents. Look for the section titled “What You Pay for Your Prescription Drugs”. This is typically found in Chapter 6. You can also refer to your plan’s website in the section intended for current members. You can search both your drug list and pharmacies online and find approximate costs.
- Review participating providers in your plan’s network .
Check to see if your doctor(s) and other providers will continue to be in your plan’s network in 2018. Many plans do not actually mail a provider directory. They are not only costly, but can be highly inaccurate because provider participation can change often and is independent from the calendar year. To find this information, you should use the plan’s online directory, call us, or call the customer service number on your ID card.
- Consider your overall health care costs for both this year and what you anticipate for 2018.
- How much did you/could you in the future spend on out-of-pocket costs for medical services and prescription drugs you use regularly?
- How much will you spend on your premium and deductibles?
- How do your total plan costs compare with other Medicare coverage options?
- What could happen in a worst-case scenario?
- Reflect on your overall plan satisfaction.
- Did you use your plan this year?
- Did you understand the information you received?
- Did your plan pay for authorized services you needed?
- Did you have to call customer service?
- If so, were your questions answered promptly and satisfactorily?
Overall, we suggest doing a comprehensive annual plan review and comparing your plan to other available options. This is the benefit of working with a Senior Financial Group advisor. Our licensed and knowledgeable staff will walk you through every step mentioned—at no cost to you!
Not only can we show you the information available on Medicare.gov, but we can also provide information not mentioned in plan comparisons such as if referral and prior authorizations are required or a plan’s historical stability. We also provide you with questions that you may not know to ask when comparing. Do not feel daunted by the 2018 Medicare Changes. Now you have the information you need to be empowered!
We can answer your questions and help you enroll starting October 15th through December 7th, 2017. If you were in a plan that will not be available for 2018, you have until the end of December if you want coverage to begin January 1st.