Whether you’re looking to switch Medicare Advantage plans or to change from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, check for these additional benefits.
From October 15 to December 7, you can review and change your Medicare coverage to make sure it fits your current needs. During this time, we’ll provide useful information and tips to help you along the way.
If you currently have a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), you might wonder if you should switch plans during Medicare open enrollment. Your first step is to check your Annual Notice of Change document to see any changes to your costs and coverage for the coming year.
Or if you currently have Original Medicare (Parts A and B) but are thinking of changing to Medicare Advantage, you’ll likely start evaluating your options by looking at costs: premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. You’ll also want to check which doctors and hospitals are in the plan’s provider network.
But once you’ve taken these steps, don’t stop there—you’ll want to understand what additional benefits a Medicare Advantage plan might offer. Here are seven to consider.
1. Prescription Drug Coverage
If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan and also want Part D prescription drug benefits, you must get your Part D benefits through the Medicare Advantage plan. Luckily, most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Since prescription drugs can make up a significant portion of your total health care costs, especially if you have several prescriptions or require a brand-name drug, you’ll want to evaluate a plan’s drug coverage carefully. Find out the:
- Drug deductible, which is often separate from the health deductible
- Drug copays or coinsurance, which can vary by the type of drug
Good news: Medicare Plan Finder, a tool through the U.S. government’s official Medicare site, allows you to enter your current prescription drugs so you can better evaluate available Medicare Advantage plans.
You can also often check an insurance company’s formulary or drug list on its website.
2. Vision Coverage
Wear contacts or glasses? Original Medicare only covers eye exams related to certain conditions: for example, diabetes, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
However, many Medicare Advantage plans wrap in coverage for routine eye exams and eyewear. Some plans may cover routine eye exams, but not contacts or glasses. Others may provide more comprehensive coverage.
3. Hearing Coverage
If you have hearing loss, it’s important to know that Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing exams or hearing aids.
Some Medicare Advantage plans cover annual hearing exams, hearing aid fittings, and hearing aids. If this coverage is important to you, compare deductibles, copays, and coinsurance for those services and products.
4. Dental Coverage
Everyone should visit a dentist routinely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For starters, 71 percent of older adults have gum disease, and many have cavities or tooth decay.
Original Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental care, so many seniors opt for Medicare Advantage plans that either wrap in dental coverage or offer it as supplemental coverage with an additional premium.
If you prefer, you also have the option of buying a dental insurance policy separate from your Medicare Advantage plan.
5. Gym Membership and Fitness Programs
As an older adult, it’s more important than ever for you to stay active. Regular exercise helps you lower your risk for falls, protect against dementia, and prevent and manage chronic conditions. (Check out more amazing benefits of exercise.)
Many Medicare Advantage plans include fitness programs. SilverSneakers, for example, offers:
- Unlimited access to thousands of fitness locations nationwide
- Unlimited fitness classes led by certified instructors who specialize in working with older adults
- Built-in opportunities to socialize plus a community of support
- All this at no cost to you!
Looking for plans that include SilverSneakers? Click here.
6. Nurse Hotlines and Telemedicine Services
For times when you have health questions or need help deciding what kind of care you need, many Medicare Advantage plans provide a no-charge, 24-hour nurse hotline.
Many plans also offer additional telemedicine services that allow you to consult a doctor by phone or video. Learn more in our Essential Guide to Telehealth Appointments.
7. Other Additional Benefits
Medicare Advantage plans may include unique benefits, such as programs that support a healthy lifestyle. You can typically find information about any extra resources in a plan’s Summary of Benefits.
Medicare open enrollment—your annual chance to make sure your Medicare coverage works for you—ends December 7. You can explore options at Medicare Plan Finder. Or to find a plan that includes SilverSneakers, click here.
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SilverSneakers members can go to thousands of gyms and fitness locations across the nation, plus take SilverSneakers LIVE online classes that are designed for seniors of all levels. If you have a Medicare plan, it may include SilverSneakers—at no additional cost. Check your eligibility instantly here.
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