Over the next 12 days, we will be sharing daily posts to motivate you to think about your health and well-being during the holiday season. Some posts will focus on handy tips, while others will offer a reflexion. We hope these words will inspire you and we invite you to share them with friends, neighbors and family.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period ended 8 days ago, and many of you may have changed health insurance or drug plans. If so, here is a short check list of recommendations from Medicare to ensure you make the most of your 2015 coverage:
1. Make sure you have your current Medicare card. This is particularly important if you changed either your Medicare health insurance plan or drug plan (or both) for 2015. If you haven’t received a new card or welcome packet by January 1, 2015 contact your plan provider for assistance. If you need to fill a prescription right away, find out how to fill a prescription without your card.
If you changed from a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) back to Original Medicare, use your red, white, and blue Medicare card when you go to the doctor. Also, you should request a new card if yours is lost, damaged, or the information needs to be updated.
2. Budget for next year’s Medicare Part B deductible.
Keep in mind that you have Medicare Part B and are in Original Medicare, you’ll have to meet your deductible before your Medicare coverage pays for services and supplies. Next year, the Medicare Part B deductible will be $147, the same as it was in 2014. When you plan your health care budget, take into account the increased cost of your doctor visits during the time it will take to cover your deductible. Learn more about Medicare costs in 2015.
3. Schedule appointments to get any preventive tests or screenings.
Medicare covers all sorts of preventive services to keep you healthy, as well as screenings to check for health problems. Many of these services are covered each year for free. Ask your doctor when you should schedule your yearly wellness visit in addition to other screenings you might need. Talk to your doctor about these covered preventive services to find out what’s right for your health needs. Also, if you are computer savvy or have a loved one who can assist you, use the MyMedicare.gov web application to create a preventive services calendar to keep track of your visits.
4. Make sure your drug or health plan meet your needs.
Sometimes sudden life situations can significantly change your needs. If you realize that your drug or health insurance plan no longer suit your specific needs, there is a way to change your coverage without having to wait until the next Open Enrollment. At any time during the year, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that has a 5-star rating.
Plan ratings are based on member surveys, information from doctors and health care providers, and other sources. The plan ratings are scores that show the quality and performance of the plan, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest-rated plans. You can make this change once per calendar year. Click here to find 5-star health and drug plans in your area.
Remember that the most up-to-date information on Medicare is at www.medicare.gov.