Navigating the Medicare Maze

A Medicare card, with several areas of the car...
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I have spent the past several months—yes, months—researching Medicare plans. I figure I made good use of the Internet during this time, but I also talked with trusted Medicare-eligible friends about their choices of supplements and/or Advantage plans. I am sharing a few tips with those of you who may soon be receiving Medicare, which may (or may not) save you a little time or grief during your own planning process. Along with a few website suggestions to start your senior health plan coverage, I have a few other interesting places to share with you this week. Let’s get started.

Federal Medicare Information (www.medicare.gov/MPDPF). This is where I began my search for information. For many of us, our education begins with learning what exactly Part A, Part B, and Part D, as well as Part C really means. Those terms are thrown around loosely. I am not saying that this site is necessarily the best place to learn, because it’s easy to get lost in government-speak. But learning the definitions of Part A, B, D, and C is important in choosing a plan. After those terms are learned, then one needs to understand the difference between supplements and “Advantage” plans. (Advantage plans are also called Medicare Part C). If you decide on a supplement to your Medicare Parts A and B, then you need to learn which supplement—A,B,C,D,F, G, or H is most appropriate for you. Generally speaking, each supplemental plan costs a little more as you work your way down the alphabet. But not always. And after you have finally chosen the supplement that best matches your needs and budget, you then must start researching Plan D options—the prescription drug part. You can type in the names of drugs you are taking, and find out which are covered or are in higher “tiers.” Or, you can ask your pharmacist to help you with Part D planning. If you opt for an “Advantage” plan, the drug part is already built in. So at the least, you can start your research at this Medicare site.

Indiana Dept. of Insurance Medicare Information (www.in.gov/idoi/). After sifting through the aforementioned site, I found my way to this easier-to-navigate hub. I know this does not help those of you living in Michigan or elsewhere, but Hoosiers have a friend in this site. It specifies which companies provide Medicare Advantage and Supplemental plans within the state. Yes, it matters which state you live in. Prices and the number of plans vary considerably depending on where you live, and in some cases, that varies by county. When you start comparing companies and prices, this website is a dream for us in Indiana.

Comprehensive Overview of Current Medicare Plans (http://longtermcarelink.net/eldercare/medicare_supplements). The title of this webpage is “Medicare Supplements, Advantage Plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans.” There happens to be loads of information here, beginning with the history of Medicare. I found this to be an excellent reference to understand the maze of options one must maneuver through when they reach age 65. Just when our brains want to slow down a bit, the government throws all this extra stuff at us to sift through. Crazy.

Roughly Daily (http://roughlydaily.com). For everyone who found the above information irrelevant, point your mouse over to this spot on the ‘net and enjoy some intelligent banter from a blogger who sort of follows the style of Arts & Letters Daily. Or, if you are suffering information overload by now, log on to Lolcats or Cute Overload and chill awhile.

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~ by IndianaDunesPoet on February 10, 2010.

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