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You have the tools and the smarts to make the right choice for you

Do the research yourself or just ask about the advantages of Medicare Advantage

Have you been putting off looking at any mail that includes the “M” word, Medicare?

It’s time to dive in. Grab a letter opener—and your reading glasses, if you need them—and let’s take a look so you can recycle what you don’t need and act on what you do.

My goal? Make Medicare clearer so you can make the right health plan choice for you.

Back to that pile of mail. First, if you have Medicare today, be sure to review everything related to your current coverage and how it might change for 2017.

For Medicare Advantage plans, the Evidence of Coverage is key. The book outlines how coverage works. Review the much-shorter Annual Notice of Change to be clear what’s changing for next year.

Medicare & You might also be in your pile. It’s helpful in so many ways, including showing that Medicare Advantage plans offer more than Original Medicare or Medicare Supplement.

Then decide if your current coverage works, or if you need to look through the rest of the “M” mail to explore your other options.

Understanding common coverage terms makes the process clearer. Be sure to know:

  • The monthly premium—your cost for having coverage.
  • The deductible, if there is one, which is the amount you pay out of pocket for services before cost-sharing from your plan begins.
  • Copayments and coinsurance are kinds of cost-sharing. Know the difference.
  • How plans cover office visits, hospital stays and prescription drugs.

And then remind yourself, you’re not alone.

  • Call or visit your health plan if you have questions.
  • Talk with your insurance agent or find one to assist.
  • Do research online and elsewhere using reliable resources.

Really, Aunt Betty knows a lot about growing vegetables, but she might not be the expert on healthcare coverage.

Maybe she’s actually wondering the same thing you are. Am I making the right choice?

Think about it this way, if you’re doing your homework, using trusted resources and choosing the “M” plan that fits your needs and your budget, you’re on the right track.

For help—whether you’re enrolling for the first time or carefully assessing your choices for 2017—please visit or

Jana Perry

Jana Perry, Health Alliance vice president of sales and retention, has worked with Medicare Advantage members for more than 20 years.