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It’s almost that happy time again for those of us who are chronologically challenged.  October 15 begins that golden period of open enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans across the country.  If you have Medicare Part A and Part B, then you can qualify for one of these typically low cost or zero premium plans available from carriers like Humana, Coventry, Aetna, Blue Cross, etc.  These plans include your Part D prescription drug benefits and typically cover those costs not covered by your Medicare Part B plan.

Here’s something most folks don’t know:  Medicare Part B leaves you open for 20 percent of medical costs with no cap.  In other words, it’s unlimited.  Think about it.  With a $100,000 bill for cancer treatment, you could be responsible for $20,000.  A Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan would cover that cost.

Medicare Advantage plans are offered on a county by county basis and may or may not be available in your area.  Medicare Advantage plans have specific provider networks that you must utilize to maximize your benefit.  And Medicare Advantage plans do have an out-of-pocket maximum (this is not a deductible but a series of copays that you are responsible for).

How do you choose the best plan for you whether it’s a Medicare Advantage or Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plan?  The answer is an independent, AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans)-certified broker/agent who can show you your options and help you make the right choice.  And guess what it costs you to use an expert?  NOTHING!  Brokers go through 20+ hours of training a year before they can be certified with these products.  Do you really want to try buying one of these plans online or directly through an insurance carrier?  NOT REALLY.

Do the smart thing.  Save yourself a ton of grief and time by using an AHIP-certified independent agent who can help you make the right choice that fits your needs and your budget.

Cary Hall

America’s Healthcare Advocate