In all likelihood, the commercials are already running on TV and radio. The phone will start to ring nonstop. You have a stack of mailers piled high on your kitchen counter. Conversations with friends and family lead to even more confusion. You ask yourself, “Am I on the right plan or is there something better for me out there?” For many, the Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period (AEP) can be a stressful time. Yet it’s also an opportunity to make positive changes to your medical insurance for the next year; changes that could have a broad impact on your finances.
As a Financial Advisor, I have offered my clients a wide range of products and services for over seven years. From wealth-management to life insurance, I’ve prided myself on having the knowledge and resources necessary for them to create the financial success they desire. However, early in my career a common question continued to arise from soon-to-be retirees: “Steve, what do we do for health insurance when we retire?” At the time, it was a question I could offer little guidance on. Perhaps it was my years spent as a football coach at Saucon Valley carrying over into my professional career in that, much like game planning for every offensive and defensive formation we could see on the field, I wanted to be prepared to provide an answer to such a vital question. So, in 2017 I got appointed as an independent agent with AARP UnitedHealthcare. I am now serving over 200 Medicare customers in Pennsylvania.
Proper planning for retirement includes obtaining appropriate and affordable health care coverage. In that respect, for Americans age 65 and older, any conversation about health care must include Medicare. Original Medicare (the red, white and blue card) is provided by the federal government and covers some of the costs for hospital stays/inpatient care (Part A) and doctor visits/outpatient care (Part B), but it doesn’t cover everything. There are deductibles and coinsurance affiliated with Original Medicare and it does not include prescription drug coverage (Part D) or benefits like dental and vision. Plus, beneficiaries must pay the standard (Part B) premium amount, or a higher amount (depending on your income), back to Uncle Sam. You can see the financial burden these costs pose to retirees, impacting monthly cash flow, emergency funds and the long-term preservation of your investments. Depending on your needs, you may want to add on more coverage.
Whether you are newly-eligible for Medicare or have been a beneficiary for some time, choosing the right plan is a very important decision. There are two general paths to Medicare coverage: Medicare Supplement (Medigap) or Medicare Advantage (Part C). Medicare Supplement plans help pay some of the out of-pocket costs that come with original Medicare. Medicare Advantage combines (Part A) and (Part B) under one plan that usually includes prescription drug coverage (Part D). They may also offer additional benefits not provided by Original Medicare, like dental and vision. A person should pick one option or the other but, more importantly, understand what they picked, why they chose it and how it works.
The Annual Open Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, is your opportunity for improvement. By now, beneficiaries should have received the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from their existing insurance provider, detailing the changes being made to their plan for 2021. For those of you who had a bad experience last year, may not quite understand your current plan or feel there is a better option, now is the time to address your concerns. The AEP offers you a chance to make a new coverage selection for 2021; one that better aligns with your ever-changing medical and financial needs. Don’t spend New Year’s Day with a sense of regret, feeling like you should have paid closer attention during the enrollment season. You have local help available with your Medicare questions. Please contact me today so we can discuss your needs, explore your choices and help you decide on a plan with confidence.
For one-on-one guidance, you can reach me by phone at 610-798-2529 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My office is located at 3701 Corporate Parkway, Suite 320, Center Valley, PA 18034.
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