Medicare open enrollment runs through Dec. 7; here’s more advice, including a book by a former Kentucky business editor

“For those approaching Medicare or already covered by it, now is a critical time of year to review health benefits,” Sally Squires writes for The Washington Post. “Several changes are coming in 2019, including to Medicare Part D drug coverage insurance and to some Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private insurance companies and are known as Medicare Part C.”

So, it seems “more important than ever for Medicare recipients — and anyone approaching age 65 — to begin looking at all the details right now, during Medicare’s open enrollment period, which began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7,” Squires writes. “This is the prime time of year when changes can be made in a plan without penalty. There are a lot of different plans that can work better or worse depending on your health status and finances. Experts say you should choose a plan that will not just take care of your health needs today but also what they could be in 10 years.”

One such expert is Philip Moeller, a former business editor of the Louisville Courier Journal, who is the author of a popular book, Get What’s Yours for Medicare: Maximize Your Coverage, Minimize Your Costs, which Squires notes.
Squires details some important elements of Medicare, such as Part A, “which covers inpatient hospital care, short-term care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some in-home care.” Most people pay no Part A premiums because they Medicare taxes have been deducted from their paychecks for at least 10. “Part B premiums range from about $134 per person per month to $429 per month for those earning about $160,000 as an individual or more than $320,000 for a joint tax return,” Squires notes. “The cost of Part C Medicare Advantage plans varies by the company offering the plans and benefits covered.” And look carefully at those plans, beyond premiums to deductibles and co-payments, advises Trudy Lieberman of the Rural Health News Service.

Also, it’s important to remember that “Medicare covers most, but not all, costs,” Squires writes. “For 2018, the Part A deductible that a patient must cover is $1,340 for each hospital admission during the year. For extended hospitals stays beyond 61 days, there are additional costs of at least $335 per day that recipients pay.”

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