What to consider when evaluating your Medicare plan for 2021

Lak Health Markets Kathy Carvin 2
Find out what licensed insurance agent Kathy Carvin, of HealthMarkets Insurance Agency, says everyone evaluating a Medicare plan for 2021 should consider. (Photograph: Benjamin Margalit)

By Beth Newcomb

This year’s enrollment period for Medicare launches on Thursday, October 15, and ends on Monday, December 7. In theory this might seem like a lot of time to make sure the plan you’re enrolling in is the best fit for your needs, but in practice it really isn’t.

“The Medicare annual enrollment period is the time when everyone who has Medicare either continues into the next year with their current plan, or they decide to switch to a plan that better meets their changing needs,” says Kathy Carvin, a licensed insurance agent with HealthMarkets Insurance Agency. “They want to meet with a HealthMarkets agent to review where they are now, whether or not there have been changes to their current plan, and if switching to a different plan might better suit their needs in the coming year.”

With only so many hours available in the day, it’s important for you to schedule time to meet with Kathy now.

“It’s not a requirement to meet with me, but why wouldn’t you take advantage of my free guidance?” she asks. “I spend hours reviewing all of the changes to Medicare plans, so instead of having to dig through a pile of information trying to decide if your plan has changed for the better or worse, or if there is another plan out there that might be better suited to your current situation, you can sit down with me and have that answer in about 30 minutes or less. It’s the smartest half-hour investment you’ll make.”

Kathy has created a list of the three crucial areas to consider before enrolling in any Medicare plan.

Perhaps the most important aspect to consider, taking a close look at which medications you’re taking, which medications you might need to start taking, or which medications you’re going to stop taking in the coming year is key.

Another thing to note is that the formulary list for the Medicare Advantage plan you’re on could be changing for the coming year. You’ll want to be certain your medications will still be covered and find out how much they’re going to cost.

It might be tempting to choose the Medicare plan your spouse is on, but Kathy Carvin, of HealthMarkets Insurance Agency, says an individual review is key. What might be right for you may not be the best fit for your spouse

“Provider lists tend to stay pretty stable from year to year,” Kathy says. “So, while it’s important to review, there aren’t likely to be any major changes. But what you might want to consider on the provider side of a Medicare plan is whether or not a specialist you’ll be seeing this year is on the list. For example, if you’re going to be getting cataract surgery, you’ll want to make sure the doctor performing the surgery is on the list. Or, if you’re going to be seeing a cardiologist, the same idea applies.”

“There are sweet spots to find in each plan and they differ from one to the next,” Kathy says.

The co-pay is another area that might vary from plan to plan, and you need to decide if that’s an expense that makes sense for your situation. Some plans don’t have a co-pay, but they might cost more. Northeast Ohio is fortunate to have a variety of plans, like Medical Mutual, available.

So much with Medicare changes from year to year, and that’s especially true for 2021. Carriers are competing for business, which means they’re adding more enhancements to plans. A free review may result in better options and greater savings in the plan you end up choosing.

“There are a lot of variables,” Kathy notes. “Some people need a plan with dental and vision built in, others might elect to pay for those separately. Reviewing the design of a plan is an important part of making your decision.”

Navigating the ANOC
Everyone currently on Medicare will get an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Kathy says this important piece of information contains everything you need to know about what your Medicare plan will look like in the coming year, and if there are any changes. She can help you decipher exactly what this notice says and how it applies to you.

“In some cases, it will make sense for a person to stay put on their current plan. Others may want to consider switching,” Kathy notes. “I’ll help you determine which option is right for you, and the best part is my guidance is always free of charge.”

Meet Kathy
Kathy attends Garfield Church and serves as an usher. She lives on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland and spends some of her free time discussing her latest read as a member of a book club.

As the proud single mom of two boys, Matthew and Turner, who are both grown and out of the nest, Kathy spends her downtime with her rescue dog, Princess Guinness, and volunteers at the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Kathy Carvin has offices at 10512 Northfield Road, in Northfield, and 28881 Lorain Road, in North Olmsted. She serves all of Northeast Ohio including Lake County. You can schedule a time to meet with her in the office, your home, or via video chat by calling 216-375-5902.

HealthMarkets Insurance Agency, Inc. is licensed as an insurance agency in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Not all agents are licensed to sell all products. Service and product availability varies by state. Agents may be compensated based on enrollment. No obligation to enroll. 46383-HM-1020