Time for annual review of Medicare choices
today at 8:34 am
It may be inconsistent for a liberal who supports a government-funded healthcare plan to opt for a private company’s Medicare Advantage plan, but it goes to show that personal interest wins out. Medicare Advantage saves me hundreds of dollars a year.
Medicare Open Enrollment for 2022 continues until December 7. After reviewing my options, I’ll stay with Humana Gold Plus, a Medicare Advantage plan with a $0 premium and dental, hearing, vision, teletherapy, and over-the-counter drug benefits. It was hard to choose between Humana and Aetna’s Medicare Advantage plans, which have better dental benefits. My choice next year may be different.
Private insurance companies are paid by the federal government to offer Medicare Advantage plans, which bundle all coverage into a single plan. Traditional Medicare is managed by the government and necessitates buying a supplemental policy and drug insurance for comprehensive coverage.
Coming up on its 25th anniversary next year, Medicare Advantage is growing in popularity. AARP reports that 42 percent of Medicare recipients choose it, and a majority are expected to by 2030. The appeal comes from premiums as low as $0; more benefits, including dental, hearing, and vision coverage; and the simplicity of having a single plan.
Why wouldn’t everyone opt for Medicare Advantage?
Choice. Whether HMOs or PPOs, Medicare Advantage plans steer members to their provider networks. People with Traditional Medicare can see whomever they want.
I understand why people in sparsely populated areas would prefer Traditional Medicare. They might sometimes want to seek medical care outside the limited number of local providers.
But in Chicagoland, where top-20 hospitals like Northwestern and Rush are in Medicare Advantage networks, and where huge medical groups like Duly (formerly DuPage) have hundreds of specialists and scores of hospitals in their systems, people can see top doctors for any health problem. Paying for a supplement and a drug plan with Traditional Medicare seems senseless when I get Rush Health with Medicare Advantage.
However, I do not have chronic health problems. People needing ongoing treatments might prefer Traditional Medicare with a supplement to avoid the copays that Medicare Advantage plans charge. They also might want to choose Traditional Medicare from the start because switching to it later might result in higher premiums for preexisting conditions or in being turned down for a supplemental policy.
My main reason for writing this post is not to argue for or against any choice but to remind people to review the Medicare options during Open Enrollment. Whatever your current insurance, it’s not advisable to automatically stick with it for next year. Plans change. Annual Open Enrollment gives you an opportunity to find the one best for you.
If you like a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to check that your providers are in its network before signing up.