Review Your 2014 Medicare CoveragePosted by Medicare Made Clear
Businesses often spend the first quarter of the year (January through March) planning for a successful year. How about spending some time reviewing your 2014 Medicare coverage? What you learn and the actions you take may have a big effect on both your health and your pocketbook in the coming year.
Here are a few things you can do.
1. Take note of changes in your plan.
You may have changed plans during Medicare Open Enrollment last fall. Even if you kept your 2013 elections in 2014, plans can change from year to year. So it’s a good idea to go through all of your 2014 plan materials to see what may be new for this year.
One example of something that’s new in 2014 for people with Original Medicare or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is the “Blue Button.” Located on MyMedicare.gov, the Blue Button allows you to download your health information to a mobile device or your computer. You can download up to 36 months’ claims information for Medicare Parts A and B, and up to 12 months’ claims information for Part D. This makes it easier to share your medical history with doctors or caregivers.
2. Get the most out of your coverage.
As you probably know, Medicare coverage isn’t free for most of us. Shouldn’t you be getting all you can out of the coverage you’re paying for?
One area in which you might be able to get more out of your coverage is preventive care. A good first step is to make an appointment with your doctor for a “Welcome to Medicare” visit (if you’re new to Part B in the past year) or Annual Wellness Visit (after the first year of having Part B). Together you can discuss screenings, preventive care, treatment options and medications that best meet your health care needs and fall within your Medicare plan coverage. By taking a proactive approach, you can help ensure that you’re getting the most from your coverage. Best of all, these visits are covered by Medicare with no cost to you; the Part B deductible doesn’t apply.
Medicare Part B covers a wide range of preventive screenings and services, from mammograms and prostate cancer screenings to nutrition therapy services. These often change in a new calendar year, so it pays to review what’s available. And remember that both the Annual Wellness Visit and preventive screenings are covered if you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, too.
3. Look for ways to save money.
If you have a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan, take a look in your 2014 materials or on your plan website. You may find a cost-saving program that’s new this year, or one you simply overlooked in a previous plan year.
For example, it’s always worth checking to see whether you might save money on your prescription drug costs. Your insurance company may offer you a discount on your co-pays if you get your prescriptions filled at certain pharmacies. Or they may offer you lower costs if you order maintenance medications through a certain mail-order pharmacy. And it’s never a bad idea to look over your plan’s 2014 formulary (list of covered drugs) with your doctor, to see whether there’s a medication you take that could be replaced by a lower-cost option.
Knowledge is power.
Knowing all you can about your Medicare coverage can help empower you to meet your health care and cost goals for 2014. And one added bonus is that when it comes time to choose a 2015 plan (or plans) during Medicare Open Enrollment in the fall, you’ll be ready to review your choices.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Medicare.gov: Find out more about preventive care visits on the official U.S. government website for Medicare.
Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services: A booklet from Medicare.gov.