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New Year’s Checklist for Better Health and a Fatter Wallet in 2018: 7 Things You Can Do in January to Enhance Your Health and Save Money All Year Long

Ready for a fresh start in 2018? For many of us, January brings renewed energy and hope for the possibilities that lie ahead in the New Year. All that energy and optimism make the beginning of the year the perfect time to get organized and on track to achieve our goals.

If you’re one of the more than 60 million people enrolled in Medicare, use that organizational kick to explore how your Medicare benefits could help make 2018 your healthiest year yet – and save some money while you’re at it.

Here are seven things you can do in January to kick start your health goals and make the most of your Medicare coverage in 2018.

Infographic: New year's health benefit checklist


1. First things first: Get smart on your benefits. You can’t make the most of your benefits if you’re not all that familiar with them in the first place. So for starters, find the materials your plan has sent in the mail, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or green tea) and spend some time looking through them. They could include:

  • Welcome materials or a plan details booklet
  • A member guide with tips on how to make the most of your plan
  • A list of upcoming member orientation events in your area.

2. Check out your plan’s member website and save it as a favorite for future reference. Many plans provide a wealth of information and resources on these sites, sometimes even including personalized details about your plan.

3. Start the year off right with your annual wellness visit or physical. The first few months of the year are the perfect time to schedule routine doctor appointments to ensure you’re up to date on recommended care and preventive screenings. Your annual wellness visit is a good opportunity to sit down with your doctor and develop a plan to help you achieve your best health in the year ahead. And if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, check if it covers a full annual physical as well.

4. Review your drug list (or formulary) and check it twice: To avoid surprises at the pharmacy counter, make sure you understand which drugs are covered under your plan. Visit your plan website or call customer service to get your full drug list.

5. Get familiar with doctors and pharmacies covered by your plan. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can save money by using network doctors and hospitals. Same goes for pharmacies. Whenever possible, pick up your drugs from network pharmacies where you’ll usually pay a lower copay.

6. Check to see if your health plan offers a fitness membership. If it does, you have one less excuse not to hit the gym in 2018. Many Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans include a fitness membership, and some gyms offer classes and programs specifically geared toward older adults.

7. Look for extra plan discounts. It’s not a good feeling to realize half-way through the year that you could have been saving money on the products and services you use on a regular basis. Familiarizing yourself with all the cost-savings opportunities your plan offers can help you maximize your savings in 2018. Check if your Medicare Advantage plan offers discounts on things you already use or need, such as:

  • vitamins
  • hearing aids
  • fitness programs
  • alternative medicine services such as acupuncture

Want more information to help you navigate your plan in 2018? Call your plan by dialing the number on your health plan ID card to learn more about your benefits or visit MedicareMadeClear.com for more tips and resources.

Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies. For Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans: A Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. Enrollment in these plans depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.