Open enrollment for 2020 is almost here! You will be able to view and choose your option for the coming year beginning on October 15th. Open enrollment goes on through December 7th.
There are several ways you can learn about everything Medicare, 2020. First, you can call our office. As I've mentioned more than a few times, I headed up Medicare here in Georgia for Aetna and along with being a CFP®, stay up with all of the current changes to the program. Also, you can go to Medicare.gov plan finder. The site has just gone through a complete upgrade, but if you have used it before, you will see the familiar screens to lead to to the options in your county.
You can choose a Medicare Advantage plan or a traditional supplement to Federal Medicare. With Medicare Advantage you are typically presented with an all inclusive option including prescriptions that serves as your complete Medicare package, often at a $0 monthly premium. The traditional supplement is just that. You continue to use your Federal Medicare card and depending on the supplement option you choose, it picks up varying levels of the 20% Federal Medicare does not cover.
When evaluating new plan options, I encourage everyone to approach it from a cost perspective first and work your way back. Especially if you do not utilize significant services, look at the $0 premium Medicare Advantage options. Compare the copay's and benefits,the deductibles the physician list, and lastly, what your medications would cost to determine the option that would offer the least out of pocket potential. My Mom was on a Medicare Advantage plan until she passed away this year at age 99. Even as she started to utilize a good bit more in the last couple of years, it was a drop in the bucket compared to all of the premium we saved by not purchasing a traditional supplement.
If you do utilize significant services or have frequent hospital stays, a traditional supplement may be more appropriate. Here you will have unlimited choice of doctors who accept Medicare and will pay off for you if your out of pocket typically exceeds the cost of the premium each year.The numbers will differ for each person but it's important to do the math on what you would have paid in premium and out of pocket the last couple of years if you chose Medicare Advantage versus the traditional supplement.
We are expecting a number of changes for 2020 so be very careful to examine a plan before you choose it, especially if you are dealing with an agent. For instance, in 2020, if you are new to Medicare, you will not be able to purchase traditional supplement letter C or F(Medigap policies traditionally use an A thru G system to determine plan design). If you are already in one of those options, do not allow someone to tell you, you must choose a new plan.........because you do not! This only applies to those who will be eligible for the first time in 2020.
Medicare Advantage plans which have traditionally offered additional benefits such as eyeglasses reimbursement, hearing aids, gym memberships and many other perks, may be offering even more in 2020! Now plans may be offering potentially significant additional benefits to those with chronic conditions. More details are listed in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid news release, but they may include everything from quality of life benefits to meal delivery to even marriage counseling!
In closing, this is a very personal decision so choose an option that works best for you. Also, choose that option based on the facts, not what your friend or doctor may have told you about a plan or even insurer. Do not hesitate to call if we can help in any way. If you would like to schedule some time October 15th or after, insurance planning is available to all clients who have planning as a part of their package with us.
Roy Larsen is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and Fee Only Wealth Manager who resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
Roy's Financial Blog contains articles on the multiple and complex issues of living successfully in Retirement. There are additional resources on our educational website, www.successfulretirementinstitute.com.