When considering Medicare plans for 2015 nothing is more important than finding a plan that will fit your budget. For most people this is the first criteria whether they are shopping for a Medicare supplement, Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D plan.
But the monthly premium is not the only cost factor to consider. Depending on the plan there may be other dollar costs to consider and some costs that you may not have considered.
Costs for 2015 Medicare plans go beyond the monthly premium
Most people familiar with Medicare Advantage plans realize that there will be additional expenses when they receive services. This cost-sharing can take the form or co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles. Review a plan’s Summary of Benefits to get the specifics.
What is not always as evident are the limitations that you may encounter when using your plan. These limitations are costs that you must consider. Not financial costs but costs to your potential lack of freedom to use your plan as you see fit.
The costs referred to are network restrictions in this case. When you choose a plan you typically don’t think about the … what if?
What if you develop a disease or condition and the best provider for your case is out-of-network. That is a real cost.
Before you enroll in an Advantage plan take some time to ensure that all provider categories include providers that are acceptable to you. Insist on reviewing a Provider Directory prior to enrollment.
Getting locked into a plan could cost you
Unless you have a change in circumstance and are entitled to a Special Enrollment Period there are few options to switch plans mid-year.
Beginning in 2011 a special dis-enrollment period was introduced. This allows people who would like to dis-enroll and return to original Medicare to do so between January 1 and February 14. This does not allow you to enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan. You are allowed to make one change at any time into a 5 star rated plan. Plan ratings can be found on the Medicare website.
The problem with this is there are very few 5 star rated Medicare Advantage plans. Some rural Counties may have a very limited amount of plans available to begin with.
If you do not dis-enroll during the proper time or do not have a suitable 5 star plan available you will be locked into your plan until December 31. The potential for being locked in is a cost you must consider.
Medicare Advantage plans are a good option for many people. But before you jump at the lowest premium it’s best to review the Summary of Benefits and Provider Directory to get an understanding of the true costs.