Making It Count: 5 Tips for Choosing a Medicare Plan

Millions of people recently cast their votes in the mid-term elections. But for those 65 and older, there is another important choice to make: choosing Medicare coverage for 2019 by the Dec. 7 annual enrollment deadline.

Changes made during this time will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Selecting a Medicare plan doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are five tips to help make the process easier and ensure you are choosing the right option for you:

Review Your Options

Take the time to explore your options and understand the benefits and costs of each plan. Learn about what Original Medicare covers versus Medicare Advantage. Pay attention to more than just the monthly premium. You also should understand the out-of-pocket costs — deductible, copays and coinsurance — you may be responsible for.

Also, consider any changes to your health over the past year or whether you anticipate major health needs, such as surgery, in 2019. This will help you determine if your current coverage still fits your needs.

Prevent Financial Surprises

Before you select a plan, check to see if your doctor is in your Medicare plan’s network. Visiting network doctors is one way to help keep your costs lower. Some plans allow you to go outside of the plan’s network for a higher copay or coinsurance, while other plans don’t cover any of the cost for out-of-network visits.

Also, pay attention to prescription drug coverage. Even if you expect to keep your plan, it’s important to make sure it still covers your drugs in 2019. Remember that Original Medicare generally doesn’t cover prescription drugs, so if you are looking for help covering the costs of your prescription drugs, choose either a Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage.

Look for Ways to Save

Ask about programs that reward you for a healthier lifestyle. Some plans offer incentives for members who complete certain health-related activities, and many Medicare Advantage plans also offer gym membership and other wellness benefits at no additional cost.

Check for Additional Benefits

Annual enrollment is the ideal time to select plans with benefits that can help protect you from head to toe, so consider finding plans with vision, dental and hearing services, which Original Medicare doesn’t offer. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer these and additional perks like discounts on hearing aids.

Learn the Lingo

Do you have a full understanding of health care terms, such as premium, deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum? What about the ABCs of Medicare, or specific terms related to Part D? If not, there are resources online, including Medicare Made Clear and UnitedHealth Group’s Just Plain Clear Glossary to help you understand health care terms.

You can also visit to explore plan options.


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.