10 Ways Medicare Recipients Can Cut Health-Care Expenses
Medicare provides medical insurance for elderly and disabled individuals. For many of these Americans, receiving Medicare coverage brings comfort—knowing that care will be available, especially as we age and our health-care needs become greater, is reassuring. However, Medicare can be costly. Between co-pays, deductibles, and premiums, the price tag for the health-care coverage can really add up. When every penny counts, here are 10 ways you can cut back on health-care expenses.
Supplement your Medicare Coverage
Typically, Medicare (Parts A and B) covers 80 percent of your medical costs—you’re responsible for the remaining 20 percent. Depending on what types of treatment you receive and where you are, that portion could be costly. A Medicare supplement plan can help cover this 20 percent, any deductibles, co-pays, and any gaps in coverage. Search for supplement coverage plans and Medigap plans in your area at https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/.
Mind the Gaps
Medicare does not cover every part of your health-care treatment. In addition, some deductibles reset during the year, leaving you to pay more money. Know what Medicare does and does not cover, and budget for those expenses as best you can.
What are Medicare’s gaps?
- Prescription drug coverage – Original Medicare (Parts A & B) does not cover prescription drugs.
- Deductibles and co-insurance – Part A has deductibles that reset every 60 to 90 days. Part B has a deductible and co-insurance of 20 percent to 45 percent.
- Out-of-pocket maximums. Original Medicare does not place a cap on out-of-pocket costs.
Pick a Medicare Part D Plan
Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover prescription drugs, but everyone with Medicare can purchase a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that can help cover costs associated with medications. Find a plan run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare by visiting https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.
Check That Your Drugs Are Covered
Be sure your prescription drugs are covered by the Medicare Part D benefit you select. Whether you get prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan or prescription drug plan, know that most plans change their pricing, benefits, and the drugs they cover each year. If your plan stops covering the drugs you take, your out-of-pocket costs will increase dramatically.
Mail Your Meds
Ordering drugs through the mail can save you 50 percent or more on generic prescriptions. Some insurance companies are even offering mail-order drugs at $0 after your deductible is met.
Compare Generic Drug Prices
Each year, some of the most commonly prescribed drugs become available as generics. If there is a generic alternative to a drug you currently take, ask your doctor if you can begin taking it. Generic medication can save you big bucks.
Don’t Fall for Common Myths
Many Medicare recipients believe they must “bundle” their Medigap plan with a Medicare Part D plan from the same insurance company in order to get the best savings, but it’s not true. The law requires that insurance companies offer the same plans at the same prices in all venues. Insurance companies cannot charge you more or less depending on where you buy or from whom you buy. Also, insurers cannot give you a discount on one type of Medicare insurance if they sell you a second type of Medicare insurance.
Be on Time
Don’t miss Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. The AEP is the one time of year when people on Medicare can review their Medicare Advantage coverage or stand-alone prescription drug plan coverage and make changes if the coverage has changed.
Regardless of the type of supplemental coverage you want—Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplements, or stand-alone prescription drug coverage—it’s a good idea to comparison-shop among all available plans in your area. Ask about each plan’s “maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP)” limit, physician network, and dental and vision coverage. Also, check on drug coverage—specific drugs covered by a plan can vary greatly and impact the plan’s cost.
Don’t Go It Alone
Medicare is complex. Just when you think you have it figured out, a rule you’ve never heard of will complicate what you thought you already knew. You can contact Medicare directly for help by calling 1-800-Medicare or visiting http://www.medicare.gov.