By FPA member, Catherine M. Seeber, CFP®
Last Updated: October 29, 2012
The Affordable Care Act signed March 23, 2010 by President Obama has altered the landscape for Medicare and prescription drug coverage. The law puts in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that will roll out in stages. Using Medicare’s Plan Finder, www.medicare.gov, you may discover similar or better coverage at lower premiums. The enrollment period for 2013 coverage runs from October 15 to December 7. Any changes made during open enrollment are effective as of January 1, 2013.
People with Medicare get new benefits – like discounts in the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” and free preventive services.
Why is it Important to Review my Plan?
- More than 56 million Social Security recipients will see their monthly payments go up by 1.7 percent next year. Insured Retirement Institute officials suggest that the increase could be mostly offset by higher Medicare Part B premiums.
- You can learn about new cost-free preventive services and treatments at no cost. Some of these services include screening for depression, alcohol misuse and obesity; behavioral therapy for cardiovascular disease; and more.
- Discounts on brand-name prescription drugs continue to increase and your prescription drug coverage needs may have changed. If you haven’t already, you can customize your prescription drug coverage by the medications you take on a regular basis.
- Based upon the changes, you may wish to switch from the original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare.
- Take a look at recent co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions and compare to what you pay in premiums. If you begin to require substantial care or have multiple prescriptions, you may want to take a look at increasing your premiums to lower your co-pays.
- You may have moved or you have been unhappy with your doctor or quality of services. Plans in your area may have changed.
Don't Pass Up This Opportunity
Because of the complexity of all of the options, it can be tempting just to ignore open enrollment without making any changes. All too often, however, Medicare recipients waste money by sticking with plans that aren't right for them.
The Affordable Care Act is designed to not only control costs but to improve quality of care. During this enrollment period and before making a choice, take some time to compare a variety of quality measures of health care and service providers by using the tools provided by the federal government at www.healthcare.gov. You may also call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov to get the answers to situations specific to your needs. Of course, your financial adviser can also help you find the information to make decisions about Medicare. By spending a little time and taking advantage of the resources at your disposal, you can make sure you will get the best coverage at the lowest cost.
FPA member Catherine M. Seeber, CFP®, is a Principal and Senior Financial Advisor with Wescott Financial Advisory Group, LLC, an SEC-registered, fee-only investment advisory and wealth management firm. Cathy also serves as the President of the Financial Planning Association of the Philadelphia Tri-State Area Chapter.
Get past tips about financial planning.