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Medicare Open Enrollment for 2020 runs Friday, November 1 to Sunday, December 15, 2019. Coverage starts January 1, 2020.

Open enrollment is upon us. I am not talking about college admission either unless you got away paying $500,000 as a “contribution.” Only kidding.

If you are eligible for Medicare and for most health insurance on the exchange, you can enroll without any medical questions or switch companies. So what should you choose? Here are some ideas for your consideration:

1If you are healthy, a high deductible medical plan may be the least expensive option. because it typically comes with lower premiums than other plans and usually qualifies for health savings account contributions if you are not under Medicare. To be eligible for a Health Savings Account, you would not be under Medicare and have a plan deductible of at least $1400 if single, or $2,800 if you are a family of two or more people.

2A preferred provider option (PPO) policy with a lower deductible and high premium may be a good choice if you have a condition that requires you to visit health care providers frequently. These PPOs don’t require you to get a referral from a primary care physician too. A HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) do require that you get a referral to a specialist from your primary care physician. Although these HMOs are usually less expensive than PPOs, I don’t recommend them unless you simply can ‘t afford the PPO. The reason is that HMOs have gotten a bad rap recently in being stingy on referrals in order to cut medical costs.

3Medicare Advantage plans vs Original Medicare:: These alternatives have been available and have puzzled consumers for decades. So which is better? I am sure that you have seen commercials from various medical providers such as Humana, that you can get all of your normal Medicare offers PLUS additional benefits such as dental, eye glass coverage, gym memberships and even possibly transportation to the doctor at a lower cost than Medicare and supplements including a drug supplement. While it is true that Medicare Advantage plans are generally less expensive than Medicare not to mention offer more coverage’

Medicare advantage plans also include what would normally be a Medicare supplement and drug supplement. Thus, you only have to issue one monthly check to the company sponsoring this. With original Medicare, you may be able to pay for Medicare via withholding from your Social Security but might have to issue separate checks for the supplement and drug supplement companies,which can be different companies.

Despite these advantages, Medicare Advantage plans do have some big hidden problems:

First Medicare Advantage plans are NOT Medicare. Thus, doctors and hospitals that take Medicare patients do not necessarily take Medicare advantage patients. This is a big deal sine the nationwide network of Medicare providers is much bigger than that found in Medicare Advantage plans. 

Also, because of the wider network of doctors and clinics for Medicare, Medicare becomes a LOT more portable if you switch to a new state or travel around the U.S than that of Medicare advantage plans.

Thus, you really need to think about these factors before you choose a Medicare Advantage plan. Personally, If money isn’t a big issue, I would choose original Medicare with a Medicare supplement and drug coverage supplement.

If this is too expensive for you to afford, the next best solution would be a PPO plan under a Medicare Advantage plan. Finally, the last choice I would recommend would be a HMO Medicare Advantage plan that requires you to get a referral to a specialist.

Sandy Botkin  Co-founder at Taxbot

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Sandy is a CPA, Tax Attorney, and former IRS trainer. He has authored many helpful books on the subject of taxes, including 7 Simple Ways to Legally Avoid Paying Taxes ( Click Here ), Lower Your Taxes: Big Time ( Click Here ), and Real Estate Tax Secrets of the Rich ( Click Here ).
Posted in: Medicare