Why You Shouldn't Listen to Friends When It Comes to Medicare Health Plans
A referral or advice from your friends can mean a lot when making a decision, whether it’s what color to paint your living room or which dentist to visit. So naturally, when people are new to Medicare, they seek guidance from a friend or acquaintance who is already on Medicare and has gone through the Medicare enrollment process. As you ask them about their decisions, consider these important factors to be sure the advice you receive fits your situation.
Medicare Is Complicated
Almost everyone can agree is that Medicare is complicated. With so many options and so many different features, even people who have been on Medicare for years struggle to fully understand what their plan covers. They also may not have fully understood the coverage options and plans available to them when they first enrolled. For example, many people don’t know that Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) only covers 80 percent of their medical costs. If they do understand that, they’re unsure how to cover that other 20 percent. Many more aren’t aware of the Medicare Part C option, where comprehensive plans are available for as little as $0 premiums.
Because Medicare is so complicated and offers so many options, it’s a good idea to validate a friend’s advice with your own research. You might also consider consulting a Medicare professional. Typically, a Medicare professional is available to answer your questions free of charge and can help you better understand how the various options fit with your needs.
Medicare Is Always Changing
Did we mention just how complicated Medicare can be? Not only is Medicare complicated by its nature, it changes nearly every year. Medicare benefits are regularly reviewed and updated, so the factors that guided your friends’ decisions may have changed since they enrolled. While your friends’ choices may have been exactly right for them, it’s not always safe to assume that their choices are right for you and your needs. To be sure you’re up to date with the latest information and options available, do your own research in addition to what you may learn from your friends. Medicare.gov, the official U.S. government site for Medicare, is one of the best places to start your research.
Not All Medicare Is the Same
A common thought is that all Medicare is the same, and you simply enroll when you become eligible. In reality, Medicare lets you choose how you receive your Medicare benefits, and you have a lot of options, including Original Medicare with Part A and Part B, Original Medicare plus a Medicare supplement plan, Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage Part C. Which option you choose determines your monthly out-of-pocket costs and your overall financial risk if you become ill or suffer an injury. So even though your friend choses one option for receiving Medicare benefits, one of the many other choices available might be more suited to your needs. All options provide the full rights and protections of Medicare.
Be Skeptical About Word-of-Mouth Advice
We aren’t suggesting that you shouldn’t trust your friends, but they may have been given advice by someone who didn’t research the options fully. It’s like a game of telephone. By the time the message reaches you, it’s gone through so many people that you can’t be sure where it started or how correct the information is. You really can never be certain that the advice being offered does, in fact, meet your own needs. Typically, word-of-mouth information is passed along from one person to the next, with few questions asked along the way. To avoid making your decision on faulty facts, be careful to confirm the advice and study the many plans and options with your personal situation in mind.
When all is said and done, your friends have your best interest at heart, so buy them a cup of coffee and listen to their insights. But keep in mind these tips as you take in their well-meaning recommendations. By doing some research of your own to confirm their advice, you can feel confident that you’re making the right choice for you.
For more information, visit Medicare.gov.