Senior citizens must make key decisions when enrolling in the Medicare benefits program. The basic parts of the benefits package, A and B, do not cover several aspects for which many seniors want insurance. The primary examples are dental and vision coverage. Optional Medicare Advantage plans provide this coverage, although the entire premium then will be somewhat higher. These are also known as Part C.
The initial Medicare Advantage enrollment takes place in April through June after a person has enrolled in Parts A and B. When someone decides against signing up that soon, this individual can do so during the yearly open enrollment scheduled from mid-October through early December.
Considering the Options
Advantage plans are partly funded by the federal government but are administered by private insurance companies. The policies vary considerably in features and pricing, so seniors will want to carefully consider the options. As with standard health insurance, most of the policies are offered as health maintenance organization (HMO) and preferred provider organization (PPO).
Common Types of Coverage
Some consumers consider the best options to be those offering dental, vision, and hearing care. In contrast, many individuals only consider dental and vision care essential in an Advantage plan. Yet hearing impairment in this age group is common, and many cannot afford to purchase hearing aids. Reduced hearing ability detracts from a person's quality of life, sometimes significantly.
Other benefits are included in certain Advantage plans that may be very appealing to consumers. An example is a paid fitness center membership. Insurance underwriting departments that offer this benefit do so because staying fit keeps seniors healthier. A good fitness level prevents injury. It also helps regulate the immune system to prevent illness. In addition, regular exercise decreases a person's vulnerability to chronic disorders like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes.
Learning About Features
Senior citizens can learn features and pricing for various Advantage plans from an independent insurance agent. Policyholders are allowed to change their plans during any open enrollment period, so it's a good idea to talk with an agent occasionally and find out whether any companies have added new features. For instance, in recent years, some plans began paying for transportation to healthcare-related appointments. Another newer option is a wheelchair ramp at the person's home. These costs can be difficult to afford for seniors living on a fixed income and without a large amount in savings.
Reach out to a professional to discuss Medicare Advantage enrollment options.