5 questions you should ask during Medicare’s annual enrollment period

Medical expert weighs in on commonly asked questions

Diving into Medicare plans can be overwhelming and confusing. Do you need help understanding the new changes with Medicare plans?

Dr. Steven Argumendo, with WellMed, answered some commonly asked questions regarding the annual enrollment period for Medicare and reiterated the importance of seeing a primary care physician for pre-existing conditions.

Almost 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes. That’s an alarming number. Is it safe to assume that 2020 is an especially worrisome year for diabetic patients, right?

“That’s true. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show more than 75% of people who died from COVID-19 had at least one pre-existing condition,” Argumedo said. “Of those, 40% were diabetic. These patients are especially vulnerable right now.”

Are many patients with pre-existing conditions avoiding or delaying treatment for fear of catching COVID-19?

“Yes, it’s estimated that 40% of Americans are avoiding care out of fear of catching COVID-19,” Argumedo said. “WellMed and others are working diligently to follow CDC health guidelines, as well as to provide alternative ways for our patients to receive care, such as curbside care and online video appointments.”

What questions should patients be asking during the Medicare annual enrollment period?

1). How is the doctor compensated?

“This is really important because it tells you the kind of care you’re going to receive,” Argumendo said. “For example, WellMed doctors are compensated based on how healthy they make you, not how many patients they see. We call it value-based care because the focus is on your health, compassion and being proactive.”

2). How often does the doctor see patients?

“Another important question. Health care is a journey, not a race,” Arguemendo said. “You want someone who takes your care personally and understands your particular situation. That takes time and understanding.”

3). What is the average time they spend with their patients?

“The less time a physician spends with you, the less they know about your particular health condition,” said Argumendo. “At WellMed, health care is about the relationship between the doctor and patient.”

4). How does the doctor communicate and coordinate care with the patient’s other care teams, such as specialists and hospitalists?

“Health care is complicated and sometimes it requires several specialists to coordinate your care together,” Argumendo said. “Your body works in unison. Your doctors should as well. Ask for particular examples of how they coordinate recent care.”

5). How do they keep up to date and practice the latest in medical advances and technology?

“Medical advances are being made every day, so you want to make sure your doctor is well informed and up to date on the latest technology and practices,” Argumendo said. “Think of this as you interviewing someone for a job. They’re going to be working on you, so you want the best.”

Schedule a time to speak with the doctor before you make your choice. You can also speak with a Medicare licensed sales agent who may have information about doctors in your community. The Medicare annual enrollment period ends Dec. 7.

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