NerdWallet: Avoid these mistakes if you’re shopping for Medicare Advantage

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.  Only 3 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries shop around during open enrollment, according to a 2022 analysis from KFF, a health policy nonprofit — and only 1 in 10 Medicare Advantage enrollees voluntarily switch plans. But a 2020 analysis of Medicare Advantage plan choices by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that more than half of beneficiaries overspent by more than $1,000 due to the plan they selected.

Medicare open enrollment is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, giving people with Medicare a chance to change plans for the upcoming year. Although potential Medicare Advantage enrollees may be swayed by $0 premiums and extra perks like vision and dental coverage, there are more important features to explore when you’re choosing next year’s coverage. Plus: Enrolling in Medicare? Here’s what’s covered and what’s not. Here are some practices to avoid as you shop for Medicare Advantage this fall.1. Thinking Medicare Advantage is Medicare If you’re considering Medicare Advantage, understand that it’s not the same thing as government-provided Medicare. It offers the same benefits, but Medicare Advantage is run by private health insurance companies and it operates differently. “You are essentially taking the Medicare coverage that you’ve been provided by the government and turning that in,” says Melinda Caughill, co-founder and CEO of 65 Incorporated, which offers Medicare guidance. You can switch back to Original Medicare during each year’s open enrollment period, but you may not be able to qualify for an affordable Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap, plan once you’re past the one-time Medigap open enrollment period. (Medigap helps with certain out-of-pocket costs not covered by Original Medicare.) Read: With Medicare open enrollment, ‘senior hunting season’ is about to begin2. Assuming your doctors are in network Medicare Advantage plans operate within networks of medical providers, and you usually must see in-network doctors for covered care. “A lot of people don’t realize that — especially those $0-premium plans — they tend to have fairly confined networks,” says Emily Gang, CEO of the Medicare Coach, a site that provides Medicare guidance. “You want to double-check that your doctor is actually an approved provider in that network.” Ask your providers what insurance they’ll be accepting in 2024, suggests Sarah Murdoch, director of client services for the Medica …

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