BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There are so many insurance options when it comes to Medicare from Parts A-D. Who do you sign up with? How much will it cost? What plan do I need?
We spoke with two local Medicare providers to break down everything you need to know about this year’s Medicare enrollment period and how to find what works for you.
It starts October 15 and runs through December 7. Local providers like Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY and Independent Health are encouraging others to reach out for help in during this time period.
"A lot of people as they age need help with selecting plans, so you want to make sure you’re having a listening ear out," said Teresa Jones, who works in Medicare Sales at Independent Health.
So let’s run through the basics:
Who should be thinking about medicare right now?
Anyone 65 or older or if you'll turn 65 soon. Or if your parents or grandparents are Medicare eligible, it's good to keep an ear out on the options so you can help.
What’s there to know?
If you’re a first timer—you’ll get standard Medicare eligibility through the government. Then there are Medicare Advantage plans you can get through carriers like Independent Health or Blue Cross Blue Shield.
"And everyone’s situation is going to be unique," said Tom Sass, Vice President of Consumer Markets at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY.
You can choose between an HMO or PPO plan. HMO is best if you stay local, PPO is a good option for snowbirds who might get care outside of WNY.
If you already have Medicare, why does this enrollment period matter?
Well—there are some new things to consider this year. Each carrier offers different benefits.
"Chiropractic and acupuncture, new plans with $0 premium if that’s your concern," said Sass.
"We have an over the counter benefit that we’re offering, it gives you a quarterly amount of money for things like even band aids, cough drops," said Jones.
Where can you go to get all of this information?
Blue Cross Blue Shield has offices in:
- Town of Tonawanda
- Orchard Park
Independent Health has offices in:
- Orchard Park
"They take care of it for me. I’m honest with them, I tell them what I don’t understand and they take care of it," said 91-year-old Mildred Szeluga of Buffalo.
So how long do you have stop by?
December 7 is the end of the enrollment period.
How much will it cost?
With so many options, it's hard to say.
Average per-beneficiary costs for Medicare in New York are higher than other states at $10,464, according to Healthinsurance.org. But that doesn't include Medicare Advantage plans.
Monthly premiums range from $0 to 200 through Independent Health and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY.
And to make sure you’re getting the best advantage plan, the government rates insurance providers out of five stars and both Independent Health and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY got five stars.