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You May Have Additional Time to Choose a Medicare Plan

Greg Wright, UnitedHealthcare
Medicare & Retirement in California

With wildfires causing devastation across the state, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended a special election period (SEP) to Medicare beneficiaries who did not choose a plan during open enrollment in counties affected by the fires. The SEP runs through March 31, 2018, which means you may have more time to choose a Medicare plan for 2018.

 

Medicare beneficiaries in the following counties are eligible:

Los Angeles; Riverside; San Diego; Santa Barbara; Ventura; Butte; Lake; Mendocino; Napa; Nevada; Orange; Solano; Sonoma; and Yuba.

Determining the right Medicare plan may feel especially overwhelming with the current challenges facing our communities, so here are four tips to help make the process easier.

1. Review Your Choices

When it comes to selecting a Medicare plan, one size does not fit all. You have options, so explore them so you can find the coverage that works best for you. Get your questions answered.

Check if your current coverage is still meeting your needs, and see if your benefits will change next year. Also, make sure your medications are included in the plan. Even if you don’t expect to change plans, it’s important to ensure your drugs will still be covered next year.

2. Consider Your Care

In addition to providing access to care providers, you should look for a plan that offers the benefits that are important to you.

Confirm your preferred doctors and hospitals are available through the plan you’re considering.

Also, don’t forget about dental, vision and other additional benefits. Many people are surprised to find that Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs and most dental, vision and hearing services. But many Medicare Advantage plans do.

3. Look at a Plan’s Overall Costs

The cost of a plan’s monthly premium is important, but you also need to take other costs into account. For some people plans with a higher premium may actually be the most cost-effective choice in the long-run, especially if the plan includes more benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs.

4. Look for Value

Don’t assume you have to pay a lot for good benefits. Medicare Advantage plans can have low or $0 monthly premiums and rich benefits.

Plans can offer the protection of out-of-pocket maximums, $0 copays on tier 1 and 2 prescription drugs, including mail order, and additional benefits like gym memberships, dental, access to 24/7 nurse phone lines and hearing aid discounts. For plans with monthly premiums, it’s important to note that people who qualify for extra help based on their income could get the cost of those premiums covered.

Remember: You May Have Until March 31, 2018 to Choose a Plan

For more information on UnitedHealthcare plans in your area, visit UHCMedicarePlans.com.

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Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies. 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.

You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.

This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year.

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