5 tips for making the most of your Medicare plan this year

Do you enjoy taking advantage of two-for-one deals at the supermarket? Make it a point to confirm discount codes when buying items online? Secretly (or not so secretly!) love the senior discount at your local thrift store? Perhaps part of you feels relieved that pandemic restrictions have cut into your restaurant spending, allowing you to create a rainy-day fund.

If any of this sounds familiar, you probably consider yourself a savvy consumer who likes to make sure you’re spending your money wisely. But have you stopped to consider whether you’re applying those same prudent practices to your Medicare benefits?

Maximizing those benefits can help with more than just saving money. It could help improve your health, as well.

Here are five tips to help ensure you get the most out of your Medicare coverage this year.

Tip 1: Learn the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage

Tens of millions of Americans made choices about their Medicare coverage last fall. Some opted for Original Medicare, but more than 40 percent choose Medicare Advantage, which combines Medicare Parts A and B. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage and valuable extras, like dental, hearing and vision care. What’s more, a Medicare Advantage plan can offer home visits to close gaps in care, help identify chronic conditions early, and more. Understanding those additional benefits and features can help you make the most of your plan.

Tip 2: Review what your plan covers – and use those benefits

You can usually find coverage and benefits information on your insurer’s website or in the plan documents sent by mail. Look for extra benefits and features that may be included in many Medicare Advantage plans, such as fitness benefits, so you can be sure to “exercise” all your options.

For example, select UnitedHealthcare Medicare plans provide access to Renew Active®, a fitness program for your mind and body, at no additional cost, which features a gym membership, a personalized fitness plan, and more. Nearly all UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans also offer multiple ways to support your health, with telehealth appointments, medication management services and HouseCalls visits.

Tip 3: Take advantage of preventive care benefits

Original Medicare offers all beneficiaries an annual wellness visit. Some preventive screenings, like mammograms and colonoscopies, are also included. These services can help catch health problems early, when they’re usually easier to treat. And your annual wellness visit is a good opportunity to sit down with your doctor and develop a plan to help you achieve your best health in the year ahead.

A Medicare Advantage plan from UnitedHealthcare can even bring preventive care into your own living room through the HouseCalls program. The program helps make it easier for members to get important information about their medications and communicate with health providers about how their care fits with their health needs and budget. What’s more, HouseCalls can also help members get connected to needed services and resources such as food, transportation, and income support.

Tip 4: Look to save money on prescription drugs

Prescription drug coverage isn’t included with Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Some people opt to enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan, but many choose a Medicare Advantage plan, which often includes prescription coverage.

Using home delivery pharmacy benefits can be one way to save money – not to mention avoiding trips to the pharmacy. With some home delivery options, you can order a three-month supply of medication for a lower cost than you would pay if you got the same supply at a local drug store.

If you prefer to use a retail pharmacy, check whether your plan has a preferred pharmacy network. This can usually mean a lower copay.

Switching to an alternative drug that’s cheaper than one you’re currently taking can be another way to save money. Ask your doctor if there’s a generic drug or one on a lower tier of your plan’s formulary – the list of covered drugs – that could work just as well for you.

Tip 5: Plan yearly expenses with the out-of-pocket maximum in mind

Medicare costs can vary widely for individuals based on their situation and the type of coverage they have.

Original Medicare generally covers 80% of a person’s Part A and Part B expenses, which include services such as doctor visits, hospital stays and lab tests. The individual is responsible for the other 20%, with no annual limit on out-of-pocket costs.

Medicare Advantage plans offer predictable copays and cap your annual out-of-pocket expenses. Once you reach the out-of-pocket maximum set by your plan, all additional costs for Medicare-covered services for the rest of the year are covered at 100%.

That cap can mean peace of mind if you have an unexpected illness or if you’re planning to undergo a major medical procedure.

The bottom line

Following these tips to get the most out of your Medicare plan could be doubly rewarding – more money in your wallet and better health to help you live your best life.

To learn more, visit uhc.com/medicare.

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