The open enrollment season is underway for Medicare Advantage, and if you are one of the 4.5 million eligible seniors in Florida, you will want to look for coverage that best suits your health needs and expenses this year. By 2020, there are more options available, as well as lower premiums and co-payments that could save you a package of prescription drugs and medical costs.

When it comes to premiums, you will find that the plans have become more affordable, offering the lowest average monthly cost since 2007. By 2020, the average monthly Medicare Advantage premium in Florida was reduced to $ 8.38 in 2020 from $ 8.45 in 2019. At the National level, Medicare Advantage premiums in 2020 decreased by approximately 23% on average since 2018.

Older people often consider Medicare Advantage plans as a way to reduce their health care costs. With Medicare Advantage, the federal government grants funds to private insurance providers that execute plans selected by individuals as an alternative to traditional Medicare. People who choose Medicare Advantage plans to exchange the freedom to go to any doctor or hospital in the traditional Medicare plan for a more limited network of insurance companies. However, Medicare Advantage policies tend to include prescription drug plans and benefits such as vision, hearing, and dentistry.

Although people tend to focus on premiums when comparing Medicare Advantage plans, David Lipschutz, associate director of the Medicare Defense Center, says they should not choose a plan just because of that. Once you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, there are other costs, such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. “[You] must see what the plan charges when you use the services,” he says.

Along with the lower premiums, there are more options in the plans this year and many offer many benefits. By 2020, there are 474 plans, with an average of 39 plans per county, compared to 33 in 2019.

Due to the many changes, you should carefully analyze your choices. Some 2019 Medicare Advantage plans within counties will be terminated or merged with other 2020 plans. Miami-Dade, for example, will lose 17 of the 82 Medicare Advantage plans currently offered in 2019. But in the same county, 14 new Medicare Advantage 2020 plans will be introduced. UnitedHealthcare, for example, will offer 42 plans in Florida in 2020, including four new special needs plans in areas of the state, including Central Florida.

“We have adapted the plans to the demographics of our members,” said Roger Rodriguez, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement in Florida.

Regardless of whether you were satisfied with your 2019 plan, it is important to evaluate annually if that option is still the best one for you.

“If you are in an Advantage or Part D plan, your benefits can and will change from year to year,” Lipschutz said. “Plans can improve and they can also get worse. Look at your annual change notice because there is no guarantee that what works for you this year will work for you next year. ”

In 2020, most Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage, and many offer eye, dental and hearing exams. Beyond that, experts advise focusing on the most critical benefits for your needs when comparing plans. More than half of all plans will offer additional telehealth benefits in 2020, and many offer supplemental benefits tailored to specific needs, such as adult care services or support services for caregivers.

Another big change this year is the savings on medicines. You will not pay more than 25% for the covered brand and generic drugs from the time you reach the deductible until you reach the out-of-pocket limit in 2020 of $ 6,350. Last year, he was required to pay a higher percentage for generics (37%).

In Florida, 27 independent Medicare prescription drug plans will be available, and Medicare estimates that 95% of people with this type of plan will pay a lower premium than in 2019 (approximately $ 30 in 2020 of $ 32.50 in 2019). Within the state, $ 13.20 is the lowest monthly premium for an independent Medicare prescription drug plan.

The annual Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 through December 7. Medicare health and drug plan coverage for 2020 begins January 1, 2020. If you enroll in an Advantage plan and change your mind, you can change to a different Advantage plan or traditional Medicare once between January 1 and March 31.

“Take as much time as possible to make an informed decision,” said Rodriguez of UnitedHealth. “It is important to understand if your doctors and hospitals participate with a plan you are considering, if your medications are covered and if you are taking advantage of all the supplementary benefits.”

“Get as much education as possible so you can choose the plan that best suits your needs,” he said.

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