Three tips on making the most of your Medicare benefits and experience

After helping clients figure out Medicare for over 6 years, I’ve learned a few things about picking the best plan and agent to help you figure out your options.  Here are 3 great ways to make sure you have the best Medicare experience possible.

1.)  Find an Independent agent to assist – Ask your friends, family, and neighbors for references!  Because Medicare plans are highly regulated, the costs and benefits are the exact same no matter how you buy.  An Independent agent that focuses on senior health insurance can be a valuable person to know when the world changes or you have a change in health.  An open relationship with your agent will allow them to get to know you and your family and make sure you are always in the best possible program.  A truly independent agent who represents the different carriers in your area will be able to guide you to the top 2 or 3 options that fit your budget, situation, and needs the best year in and out.  Use Trusted Choice’s agency locator to start your search:  http://www.trustedchoice.com/Content/Find-An-Agent/FindAnAgent.aspx

2.)  Ask about Generic Drugs –   Drug copays can add up, even becoming more expensive than your monthly premium!  Asking your doctor about generic drugs will usually lower your copay while keeping you away from the “Coverage Gap”.  Also, most pharmacies (Walmart, Target, Dierbergs, Schnucks, Shop n Save, Kmart, and so on) have $4 generic lists that people on Medicare can use to purchase generics.  Because the cost of the medicine is incurred by the pharmacy, the actual cost of the medicine doesn’t count towards a person’s “Coverage Gap”, saving more money for those expensive brand name drugs.  Here is a link to Walmart’s list:  http://i.walmartimages.com/i/if/hmp/fusion/customer_list.pdf  Prefer a different pharmacy?  Go to your preferred pharmacy and look for their PDF file for $4 drugs.  Most pharmacies in the St. Louis area participate in this program except WALGREENS.

3.)  Stay Healthy – Under the Affordable Care Act, Preventive services are now covered at 100% for Medicare beneficiaries.  This means that there are no copays or coinsurance for Medicare approved preventive services. These preventive services are designed to find and manage conditions before they cause problems.  You can find the list of what is covered here. By taking a proactive approach to your health, you win!