Advertisement
spending

How to Compare Medicare Policies

State programs can help you pick a plan over the phone or in person.

I’d like to research my options for Medicare Part D policies for next year, and I see that you often recommend using the Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov. But I don’t have access to the Internet. Is there another way to get help comparing premiums and benefits?

The Medicare Plan Finder tool is a great way to compare plans available in your area, as well as calculate out-of-pocket costs for your specific drugs and dosages. But not everyone can navigate the site successfully.

Advertisement - Article continues below

If you need assistance, the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) can be a tremendous resource. Volunteer counselors in every state are available to help seniors pick a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan either over the phone or in person at numerous locations, such as senior centers and hospitals. There are nearly 200 counseling sites in Florida alone. Plus, some SHIP counselors conduct seminars during open enrollment to help groups of people with their Part D or Medicare Advantage questions.

“The average time we spend with a beneficiary is 45 minutes,” says Andrea Gray, of SHINE (short for Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders), Florida’s state assistance program. When you visit the counselor, bring your annual notice of change -- which you should have received from your Part D or Medicare Advantage provider letting you know about any changes to your coverage or premiums for 2012. Bring your medications, too, so the counselor can put the names and dosages into the computer to compare Part D plans; you can watch as the counselor uses the Medicare tool to find plans whose combinations of coverage and price are right for you.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Counselors can get very busy, especially near the end of open-enrollment season, which begins October 15 and runs to December 7 -- not December 31, at it has in previous years. (See New Deadlines for Medicare Choices for more information about the new open-enrollment timeline for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.) So it’s a good idea to make an appointment to meet with a counselor before the end of November to give you time before the December 7 deadline.

You can start researching your plan options immediately because the 2012 plan information became available at Medicare.gov on October 1. To find contact information for your local SHIP, call 800-633-4227, or go to www.shiptalk.org. You’ll also find SHIP information on the back of your Medicare & You Handbook, which you should have received by the end of September.

Advertisement

Most Popular

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)

Between due dates for IRA or HSA contributions, paying estimated taxes and other deadlines, there's more to do by July 15 than just filing your federa…
July 10, 2020
65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On
stocks

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

These 65 Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend stocks that have reliably increased their annual payouts every year for at least a quarte…
July 8, 2020
Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider
credit & debt

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider

Your credit score is a key indicator of your financial well-being and of the risk you pose to lenders. How good is yours?
July 10, 2020

Recommended

HSAs Get Even Better
Financial Planning

HSAs Get Even Better

Workers have more options with flexible spending accounts, too.
July 2, 2020
Sales Tax Holidays in 2020
state tax

Sales Tax Holidays in 2020

Sixteen states are having sales tax holidays this year. If you plan your shopping around these tax-free periods, you can save big on back-to-school cl…
July 1, 2020
13 Luxury Goods That Are Cheaper at Costco
spending

13 Luxury Goods That Are Cheaper at Costco

You could be missing out on huge savings: Costco sells a limited selection of luxury goods at discounted prices, both in-store and online.
June 27, 2020
COVID-19: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Chance to Change Our Spending Habits
spending

COVID-19: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Chance to Change Our Spending Habits

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, including how we spend money. Are you spending less right now? Many people are. Here’s how to make th…
June 17, 2020