Top 6 tips on choosing the right Medicare Plans

Being enrolled in Medicare today means making important decisions with regards to your health care and prescription drug plans for the coming year.  With major changes stemming from the recent federal health care reform laws, knowing the right Medicare Plan for 2011 is vital to your overall health and well-being.  Most notably, you can switch health plans till Dec. 31, 2010; new coverage begins on January 1, 2011.  The following are six-important tips for you to know before choosing the right Medicare plans for 2011:

  1. Know your existing conditions–The recent health care overhaul means people are likely to receive or lose particular health care coverage and plans they already have or would need in the future.  Thus, it is very important to know that your 2011 coverage will cover or at least maintain your specific conditions to a degree you won’t face additional medical hardships.
  2. Determine what you want specifically from your doctors and providers— Knowing how and where you’d be given care for your condition is important for the coming year.  For instance, ask yourself these questions: “Does having a large number of doctors, or specialists the best alternative for me?”  OR “Would I like to receive care or treatment (lab tests, x-rays) in one set location?”
  3. Reasses your past health care needs  for future changes— If you’ve set some goals this year like losing cholesterol for example, maybe you ought to know the best ways to maintain and accomplish that goal in 2011.  Seek advice online or ask your current physician to mitigate future problems.
  4. Know vital online support tools— Determine which online sites or resources are best for you.  In the event of sickness, or disability, getting medicine or information via the Internet is your best option.
  5. Utilize key websites— For one, the government’s website, http://www.Medicare.gov is your home for all things Medicare related.  In addition, go to your health care provider’s websites.
  6. Look at total value in terms of service and costs— Take into consideration the costs of premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.  Evaluate new plans vs. your past plans’ costs, and the value of the services provided.  In all, having a budget plan before considering a new plan is as invaluable as your health and well-being.

Credit: Herman Weil, Senior VP, National Medicare, Kaiser Permanente.

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