Updating your Medicare coverage? These medical experts discuss commonly asked questions

Open enrollment ends Dec. 7

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from Oct. 15 – Dec. 7.

Now is the time for Medicare beneficiaries to make changes to Medicare coverage, as one’s health status, budget and plans can change each year.

Once you know your status and budget, the next thing is to make sure the doctor you want specializes in Medicare and is in the network.

Dr. Kristi Clark, president and CEO of HealthTexas Primary Care Doctors, and Glenda Pope, sales director for UnitedHealthcare in San Antonio and Austin, explained what seniors should take into consideration while selecting Medicare coverage plans.

What is the Medicare annual enrollment period, and why is it so important?

“The Medicare annual enrollment period is a time when Medicare beneficiaries can look at the other opportunities that exist in the market for their insurance and health care needs, rather than just traditional Medicare,” said Clark.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for 2022 is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2021.

“This is a really good time to look at your Medicare plan and see if it’s working for you,” Clark said. “People’s health care needs change through the years. Maybe you have a prescription drug that your doctor wanted to prescribe that was too expensive. You may want to look for a different plan. Or maybe you’re looking to really minimize some of those out-of-pocket costs you may have had on traditional Medicare.”

What should I look for in a Medicare Advantage Plan?

HealthTexas recommends looking at the network to make sure your specialists are on your plan. Calculate the out-of-pocket cost, look at your prescription drug coverage and make sure the provider/doctor you’re choosing is experienced with Medicare plans.

What are some resources beneficiaries should be aware of if they’re looking for help or support as they make their decisions?

“The thing about a Medicare Advantage plan is predictability and cost. Some members should always take a look at cost. Look at the current plan that you’re in,” said Pope. “Look at the Medicare options and the cost of those plans and the benefits. It’s really important to look at premiums. It’s not the most important thing. There are a lot of out-of-pocket costs that are tied to a Medicare Advantage plan. Co-pays, deductibles, all of those can be costs that the member can be held responsible for, and I can’t stress this enough -- take a look at your current plan and make sure it still (meets your needs). Specialty is also very important. Dental, vision ... a lot of prescription drugs are not covered under original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage plans will cover those.”

UnitedHealthcare offers great resources to make the process of choosing a Medicare plan easier at UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com, the group said.

“For the second year in a row, UnitedHealthcare has the number one Medicare Advantage plan, and it’s considered a five-star plan,” Pope said. “We have the only five-step plan here in San Antonio.”

If you are in need of a primary care doctor, HealthTexas has 17 locations to serve the San Antonio region, and the health group specializes in Medicare plans. All doctors are board-certified in internal medicine or family medicine.

To learn more about HealthTexas, click or tap here. Watch the video above for additional information.