10 Ways You May Be Able to Save Money on Medicare

Having Medicare coverage can help you save money on health care costs as opposed to paying for them out of pocket. But the savings don’t have to stop there. You may be able to save money on your Medicare coverage by evaluating your health coverage needs and finding a Medicare coverage option that fits with your current situation. 

Below are 10 ways you may be able to save money on Medicare during the fall Open Enrollment Period – which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year – as well as during other times of the year.

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

1. Utilize the fall Open Enrollment Period

It’s wise to review your health status along with your Medicare coverage every year to make sure your plan remains aligned with your needs. A great time to do this annually is during the fall Open Enrollment Period.

You might consider your anticipated health care expenses, such as potential out-of-pocket Medicare costs and plan premiums. Do you value a plan that helps you save money on out-of-pocket costs? Do you want to try to find a plan that offers more coverage than what you currently have, such as dental, vision, hearing or prescription drug benefits (if your current plan doesn’t offer them)?

During the Open Enrollment Period, Medicare beneficiaries can add, drop or make changes to their Medicare coverage. Any changes in coverage then take effect on January 1 of the following year.

2. Consider a Medicare Advantage plan

An alternative option to enrolling in Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans cover everything that Original Medicare does, and some plans may offer additional benefits such as coverage for prescription drugs, vision, dental, hearing and more. Hospice care is still covered by Medicare Part A even if you have a Medicare Advantage plan.

While Original Medicare benefits are standardized across the nation, Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits and can offer more ways to save money on some health care costs.

3. Utilize Medicare prescription drug coverage

Medicare beneficiaries have two options for receiving Medicare prescription drug benefits: enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage or enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Medicare Part D plans are designed exclusively for prescription drug coverage. If you take any medications, picking up a Part D plan that covers your prescribed drug may be more cost-effective than paying for the drug out of pocket, which can be expensive.1

Man doing his finances

4. Calculate your anticipated health care costs

When choosing which Medicare coverage option fits your needs, you may want to consider the premium, or the monthly or yearly cost of being enrolled in the plan. It’s also important to consider all of the other costs that you might encounter along the way.

Medicare costs like deductibles, coinsurance or copayments and out-of-pocket spending limits can add up. For some people, a plan with a higher premium may be a more cost-effective option if it helps cover some of these potential out-of-pocket Medicare costs. The plan that fits your specific health care cost needs may be different than a plan that works well for someone else.

5. Find out if you’re eligible for help paying for Medicare

There are a number of programs that offer financial assistance for Medicare to qualified individuals. These programs include help for people on Medicaid, other low-income circumstances, people living in U.S. territories and more.

There are four types of Medicare Savings Programs:

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program
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  • Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program
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  • Qualifying Individual (QI) Program
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  • Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) Program

There is also a program called Extra Help, which can help qualified Medicare beneficiaries pay for some of their Part D prescription drug plan costs.

6. Consider your plan’s provider network

If your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan includes a network of providers or pharmacies, you most likely will be able to save money if you stay in this network when seeking care or prescription drugs. Straying outside of your plan’s approved network of providers can often mean increased costs.

If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, make sure that any health care provider you see accepts Medicare before scheduling a visit. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, check to see that your provider has accepted the terms of your plan before seeking qualified care.

7. Avoid late enrollment penalties

If you don’t sign up for certain types of Medicare coverage when you first become eligible for them, you may incur late enrollment fees in the future if you eventually decide to enroll.

Late enrollment penalties exist for Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D:

  • For Part A, the late enrollment fee is 10 percent of any premium owed, which you must continue to pay for twice the number of years you were eligible for Medicare Part A but did not enroll. This only applies if you do not qualify for premium-free Part A.
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  • The Part B late enrollment penalty increases your monthly premium 10 percent for every year that you were eligible for Part B but did not enroll, and you must continue to pay the penalty for as long as you remain enrolled.
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  • For Part D, the late enrollment penalty is 1 percent of the “national base beneficiary premium” (which is $33.19 in 2019)2 multiplied by the number of full months you were eligible to enroll but did not. Waiting 24 months to enroll would drive up your monthly premium by $7.97, for example.  

While there are no late enrollment penalties associated with Medicare Supplement Insurance, you could pay higher premiums if you don’t enroll early. If you fail to sign up when you first become eligible, the insurance companies that sell the plans can use medical underwriting to determine your plan rates if you choose to enroll later on.

8. Take advantage of preventive services

There are a lot of preventive services that are covered in full by Medicare. By taking advantage of these tests and screenings, you can potentially catch a health complication in its earliest stages. And by doing so, you may be able to save money by avoiding costly treatment in the future, and you may also improve your health or even save your own life.  

9. Don’t fall prey to Medicare scams

Medicare fraud is big business, as Medicare beneficiaries are a common target for thieves. Educate yourself about common Medicare scams and warning signs so that you can better avoid being one of the many people who fall victim to Medicare fraud each year.  

10. Shop around and compare plans

One way to potentially save money on your Medicare coverage is to simply shop around and compare available Medicare Advantage plans in your area. Contact a licensed insurance agent to learn more about a plan that could fit your health care needs by calling   TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

1 Gill, Lisa. How to Pay Less for Your Meds. April 5, 2018. Consumer Reports. Retrieved from www.consumerreports.org/drug-prices/how-to-pay-less-for-your-meds.
2 Medicare.gov. Medicare 2019 costs at a glance. Retrieved from www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/costs-at-a-glance/costs-at-glance.html.

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