Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Selecting Medicare Coverage: Four Considerations to Help Seniors Choose

/PRNewswire/ -- Open enrollment, the six-week period during which seniors can select healthcare coverage for 2010, begins Nov. 15. Health plans have begun sharing their costs and coverage, but making a choice can be a daunting task. Here are four considerations to help Medicare-eligible seniors select which Medicare coverage best meets their individual needs:

1. Understand the A, B, C and Ds of Medicare. There are four primary parts
to Medicare. Parts A and B cover hospital and medical expenses,
respectively. Parts C and D provide benefit and prescription drug
coverage through health insurance companies that are approved by
Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans include all of the coverage offered
by Parts A and B and can include prescription drug coverage under Part
2. Compare costs. Premiums can range for $0 to hundreds of dollars per
month, depending upon the type of organization (nonprofit or
for-profit) and the type of coverage. Total plan costs include
premiums, co-payments and deductibles for everything from preventive
care to hospitalization.
3. Compare benefits and doctors. Does the plan have a large network of
doctors and specialists for you to choose from? Is your doctor and
preferred hospital in that network? Does the plan cover your
prescription medications?
4. Compare quality. Call the customer service number for the plans you're
considering. Does a live person answer the phone? Are they friendly,
helpful and knowledgeable? Does the plan offer value-added programs
that help you maintain or improve your health and independence? Does
the plan offer services to help your loved ones take care of you if
needed? Will the plan coordinate your care between doctors and

Selecting Medicare coverage is an important decision, especially since Medicare rules indicate that members must maintain the coverage they've chosen for an entire year. Seniors currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans will soon receive letters from their health plans explaining any changes in coverage for 2010. "We recommend that people read this letter thoroughly to avoid any surprises in the coming year," said Tom Lescault, president of SCAN Health Plan Arizona. "Changes in government funding has forced many health plans to reduce benefits or increase costs. People need to make sure they are able to make informed decisions during open enrollment."

As part of an ongoing commitment to improving the lives of seniors, SCAN Health Plan Arizona is an exclusive sponsor of "Healthy Tips for Successful Aging" with ABC 15. Each week, the station airs 30-second health tips provided by SCAN. The health plan also is the exclusive studio sponsor for KOY radio and co-hosts "Senior Focus," a broadcast dedicated to senior-related issues.

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