Can You Direct Me To Find Information About Medicare and Other Insurance Products?
Question: Can you direct me to internet resources to find information about Medicare and other insurance products?
Answer: For those individuals that are comfortable using the internet to search for solutions, there are many resources out there.
I would encourage you to use www.medicare.gov. This is the online resource for anyone with Medicare. Once you create an online username and password for yourself, this Medicare website enables you to evaluate insurance alternatives available, review Medicare Summary Notices (MSN) and even print out or order a new Medicare card. It also allows you to access a list of all your past insurance products while enrolled into Medicare. In some situations you can even print out a temporary card for those current products you are enrolled in.
You may enter your current medications, and the pharmacies you prefer to use. This information is then processed into a useful list of coverage options for your prescription drugs. The calculation is based on the cost of medications, pharmacy contracts and plans available.
Once this data is entered using your login, the website saves this information so that you can update it as your medication changes over time, or look up how a newly prescribed medication will impact your cost structures moving forward. You can also adjust your pharmacy choices to see if that could reduce your costs year to year. Each year, the Part D prescription drug plans adjust their pharmacy contracts therefore a preferred pharmacy this year, may not be a preferred pharmacy in 2022.
You also could use individual insurance company’s websites. If the www.medicare.gov website did not calculate this data for us, we would have to use each individual company’s website to calculate this cost evaluation. That would mean entering all this data into the individual websites (over and over) and takes a lot of time. But those individual websites can offer us some insight into medication alternatives. If you use an inhaler and your current plan doesn’t cover it in 2022, or have a plan that does well with all your medication except one inhaler, you could use the insurance company’s website to see what alternative inhalers the insurance product does cover. Insurance company’s websites include their 2022 Formulary (List of Covered Drugs). This is an actual printed book, or a PDF you can download and view online to research particular medications you are interested in. The Evidence of Coverage would explain the deductible, the Tier structure of the medications (how much each Tier costs) and the gap coverage provided in the plan.
Another online resource is New York State Department of Financial Services. There is a section on the website devoted to those with Medicare who live in New York. The link I use most often is: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers/health–insurance/supplement–plans–rates
This link connects you to the Medicare Supplement Plans offered in NY and the pricing structure offered by each plan. This allows you to put in your zip code and see the current pricing structures for all the Medicare Supplement Plans offered (DFS Portal). This website also includes contact information for all those companies, so you can call and discuss any concerns you have with a company service representative.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) also has a website which could be useful to you. The SSA.gov website allows you to access proof of income and other related information. The www.ssa.gov website has tighter security protocols to establish the login and password than most other websites out there. The questions and protocols required to set up a login would be almost impossible for anyone but you to be able to answer or work through.
Another great website is www.medicarerights.org for The Medicare Rights Center. The Medicare Rights Center works to ensure access to affordable healthcare for those with Medicare through counseling and advocacy, education programs and public policy initiatives. This website is loaded with learning tools, resources and contact information that will be very helpful to you as you learn about Medicare.
Putting all these resources together may make managing your situation a little easier to evaluate insurance alternatives.
Senior Life Matters is a community based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions and concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call 716-720-9797 or email SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.