Austin, Texas – Oct. 13, 2015 – Medicare beneficiaries across America will soon begin the annual process of reviewing their Medicare Part D and/or Medicare Advantage plan benefits. This is a confusing process for many beneficiaries because of the myriad of plan choices. In Texas, there are 25 plans available in 2016. Many people feel uncertain about whether they need to take any action on their current coverage.
While Medicare’s website offers a tool for comparing plans, Medicare terminology is hard to understand unless you have experience working with these plans regularly. Fortunately, there are licensed insurance agents who are certified in Medicare insurance products and can lend no-cost assistance to individuals about which plans best fit their needs and budget.
“Medicare beneficiaries face such an overwhelming array of plan choices each year that they feel afraid to take any action,” said Danielle Kunkle, vice president of Boomer Benefits in Fort Worth, and a member of the Texas Association of Health Underwriters who specializes in Medicare insurance products. “They are asking questions such as: Is their current plan changing? How can they find out if another plan will be more cost effective? Should they evaluate their Medigap plan as well as their Part D? ”
This is where the free assistance offered by licensed Texas insurance agents can be a lifesaver to many people. While most Medicare beneficiaries only evaluate their plan choices once per year, agents who work with these plans all year can save beneficiaries a great amount of time and worry.
Kunkle gave the following tips for Medicare enrollees who are preparing for the election period:
• Review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC letter). Your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan company sends out a notice to you each September that lists the changes for next year. Often there will be slight changes in your monthly premium or copays for certain tiers of medications
• Look for specific changes that affect you. While a small increase in premium is not a big concern, changes to the drug formulary can be significant financially. Your ANOC packet will list any medications that are being dropped from the plan’s drug formulary next year.
• Ask your Agent to Run a Drug Analysis. While the Drug Finder Tool might be tricky for a layman, agents are experts at analyzing the data. Ask your agent to help you determine whether your current plan is still the best bet, or if another plan will be more cost effective for next year.
• Check with your doctor. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes both medical and drug benefits and are looking to change your plan, do your research carefully. It’s important to make sure your preferred doctors participate in the network for any new plan you are considering.
Kunkle also advised that the least expensive plan is not the best choice for everyone. If a particular drug is not covered or a plan is not accepted by your preferred pharmacy or doctor, problems can result.
“Understanding these types of details are what insurance professionals do best,” Kunkle said. “Consulting an agent benefits you since doing so does not increase the cost of your coverage and gives you an added resource if questions about your coverage come up during the year.”
Medicare beneficiaries interested in locating a professional certified in Medicare insurance products in their community who can assist with questions may go to Find an Agent.
About Texas Association of Health Underwriters
Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) is a state trade association representing licensed health insurance agents, brokers, consultants and benefit professionals who serve the health insurance needs of employers seeking health insurance coverage. TAHU is a state chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters.