How Shopping Around Can Cut the Cost of Your Medicare Plan

Senior health care pictured by a man with a walker and a nurse
Photo by Rob Marmion / Shutterstock.com

Seniors consider health care expenses the most burdensome living cost — more so than cable and internet service, housing, and food, for example, according to a study published recently by WellCare Health Plans.

Yet seniors are more likely to comparison shop for those other living expenses than to shop around for health insurance, according to the study.

The study — a survey of more than 1,000 adults age 65 and older — found that only 33 percent of seniors comparison shop for Medicare insurance plans at all.

Some seniors are unaware that it’s even possible to review their plans annually, WellCare reports. Others just loathe the review process because it’s frustrating.

WellCare provides Medicare plans, including 2018 plans with improved benefits. So, you could argue the company has its own motives for reminding seniors to shop around.

Still, the rising cost of health care is undeniable. The average household spends $4,612 per year on health care, including health insurance. And it’s indisputable that you always stand to save money by comparison shopping — whether for holiday gifts or for health insurance.

That’s precisely why we’ve published multiple reminders recently that open enrollment season is happening now for folks with various types of insurance plans, including:

How to approach Medicare open enrollment

For Medicare beneficiaries, open enrollment ends Dec. 7. So, it’s high time for seniors who haven’t already reviewed their plans or comparison shopped to do so.

If you need extra motivation, remember that Medicare’s late-enrollment penalties can be steep for both Part B and Part D. We detail these recurring fees, respectively, in:

If you find open enrollment overwhelming, remember that help is out there.

Medicare.gov, the federal government’s official Medicare website, is full of information. Start with the site’s “Medicare Plan Finder,” which will show you all the health and drug plan options available in your area.

If you’re unsure what questions to ask yourself when reviewing your current plan or the other 2018 plans available in your area, these recent Medicare.gov blog posts about open enrollment offer examples of what you should consider:

If you find Medicare.gov more overwhelming than helpful, consider third-party help. Here are some suggestions from “7 Things You Need to Know About Medicare“:

  • One free option is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, for your state or territory. Federal grants fund these programs, which offer counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. To learn more about them, visit the national SHIP website.
  • Another option is to use one of several services that, for a fee, will do the heavy lifting for you. You’ll find an example in our Solutions Center: Just click on the “Medicare Assistance” button.

What’s your take on the open enrollment process? Sound off below or over on our Facebook page.

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