Choosing the right Medicare plan might seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re shopping for the first time. You may ask, “How do I know which plan is right for me?” Or, if you’re shopping around to change up your Medicare coverage, you may wonder “What do I need now?” Fortunately knowing what information you need at hand when researching and enrolling in a Medicare plan can make things a lot easier.
See below for some information you should gather up before shopping around.
Information you need to choose a Medicare plan
(1) Basic personal information
You’ll usually need to enter general information about yourself to research plans in your area and enroll in a plan when you’re ready. This can include:
- Birth date
- Permanent residence address
- Phone number
- Emergency contact information
- Email address
(2) Medicare membership and policy information
You’ll likely need to enter information about your Medicare eligibility. This is especially important if you are enrolling in a new plan. You might need the following items:
- Medicare claim number (You can find this on your red, white and blue Medicare card)
- Medicare effective date
- Name and policy information for any other insurance coverage you might have (e.g., policy number, member ID number, group number, etc.)
(3) Long term care facility information
Medicare coverage might change if you’re a resident of a long-term care facility. Therefore, to research and enroll in the plan that’s right for you, it’s helpful to include the following:
- If you are a current resident of a long-term care facility, you may need the name of the institution, its address and the main phone number.
- If you are moving in to or out of a long-term care facility, you may also need the date of your move.
(4) Contact information for current health care professionals
It’s helpful to have a list of your doctors and other health care professionals handy. This way, you won’t have to spend time searching for this information when you check to see if the plan you’re reviewing will let you see the doctors and other providers you want to. You should gather the following health care professional information:
- Names and addresses for all doctors you see, including specialists.
- Name and address of your preferred hospital; if you have more than one, be sure to get information for all of them.
(5) Prescription drug information
If you take prescription drugs, you’ll want to write a list of all your medications and how often you take them. Part D and Medicare Advantage plans are not equal either when it comes to drug coverage. Each type of plan will vary in the list of drugs it covers (called a formulary), costs, and the pharmacy networks offered. Having the following information ready can help you choose the plan that provides coverage for the drugs and access to the pharmacies you need.
- Name and address of your pharmacy
- List of all your current prescription drugs and dosages
(6) Personal health information
When you’re researching plans or enrolling in a plan, you may be asked some questions regarding your current health conditions. Your answers to these questions can often help determine the type of plan that’s best for you. For example, if you have diabetes, your best choice might be a Special Needs Plan specifically tailored to people with diabetes. You should have a list of:
- Current health conditions
- Any ongoing treatments you are currently receiving (e.g., chemotherapy, dialysis, etc.) and may need coverage for
(7) Payment information
Finally, when you go to enroll in a plan, you will be asked how you’d like to pay your plan’s premium. Some common options are payment coupons, automatic withdrawal from your monthly Social Security check or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) from a bank account. If you want to set up plan premium payment options (such as EFT from a bank account), be sure to have the following available:
- Account holder name
- Bank routing number
- Bank account number
- Account type (e.g., Checking, Savings)
Next step: Find and compare plans
Once you’ve gotten all your information together, you should be ready to research plans.
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