Understanding your Medicare coverage in 2017

For SelectQuote Senior Jan. 2017

In 2017, resolve to get both your health and your finances in order by working to understand and take full advantage of your Medicare benefits, whether you’re already enrolled or are considering it in the near future.

Maximizing HSA savings

Millions of Americans use a health savings account to set aside some money for future medical expenses while also enjoying a nice tax break. But using an HSA gets a little more complicated if you’re enrolled in Medicare.

An HSA is an option for people enrolled in certain health insurance plans, but these funds cannot always be put toward Medicare expenses, as explained by experts who spoke to The New York Times. When you enroll in Medicare and already have an active HSA, it’s possible to spend those savings on Medicare premiums, including Part B outpatient care and Part D prescription drugs. However, HSA funds cannot be used for supplemental Medigap policies.

Some people with an HSA might choose to delay enrollment in Medicare once they turn 65, allowing them to continue contributing to the fund and remain covered under an employer’s health plan. But delaying Medicare coverage also requires delaying Social Security payments. Keep this in mind if you’re approaching 65 and plan to keep working.

Know your Part D costs

The Medicare Open Enrollment period ended Dec. 7, which means anyone already contributing to a plan will need to wait until later this year before they can switch up their coverage. But whether you’re already enrolled or weighing your options ahead of your 65th birthday or a qualifying life event, it still pays to be informed on your costs. This is particularly important with regard to Part D coverage, which constitutes a vital, sometimes large expense for many.

In 2017, many Part D plans became slightly more expensive. A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that the average drug plan premium would increase 9 percent this year, with the average person paying $42 per month in premiums.

If you’re wondering how much you might be able to save with a different drug plan, you can compare costs using one of a number of online tools, like one available on Medicare.gov. When comparing Part D plans, users will need to enter information about all medications they are taking under the plan, including dosage and frequency. To make this process easy, just gather all your pill bottles and keep them handy while using the online tool. If you find a plan you might want to switch to, it’s still a good idea to call the plan provider to confirm the price and coverage information is accurate before making a decision.

Medicare Advantage disenrollment

Don’t forget that if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you have the option to disenroll from it and switch back to traditional Medicare coverage from now until Feb. 14. Medicare Advantage is more complex than a traditional plan in terms of coverage, so take the time to weigh your options before switching. As always, don’t hesitate to call your provider or contact the official Medicare office with any questions or concerns. If you’re enrolled in a state health insurance assistance program, or SHIP, you can call or visit a local office to get any questions answered as well.

 

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