New Year, New Plan: Five Tips to Make the Most of Your Medicare Plan in 2017

Ready for a fresh start in the new plan year? Now is the perfect time to take stock of the benefits available to you through your Medicare plan. Taking a few minutes to learn more about your coverage can help you save money and stay healthy throughout the year. Here are five tips to help you make the most of your Medicare plan in 2017:

  1. Know your provider network. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure you know which doctors are included in the plan’s network. Most Medicare Advantage plans work with a group of doctors, hospitals and pharmacies to coordinate the care that their members receive. They also work with doctors and pharmacies to offer special pricing, which means lower costs for members. If you go outside your plan’s network, you may pay more.  Whenever possible, visit in-network doctors and pick up your drugs from in-network pharmacies to help save money.

  2. Find a primary care provider. You might not think about a doctor until you need one. But a relationship with a primary care physician who serves as your first point of contact might help you live a healthier life. A primary care provider is a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant who you see for general health matters and who focuses on care of the whole person.

    Your insurer is resource for finding a doctor. Some insurers offer search tools that let you narrow down doctors by location, whether they are accepting new patients, and what languages they speak. Others, like UnitedHealthcare, will help you find and choose a provider near you.

  3. Don’t shrug off your annual physical. The first few months of the year are the perfect time to schedule routine doctor appointments. Getting the checkups, tests and vaccines you need — before you get sick — may help you stay healthy or may help you catch problems before they get much worse.

    In addition to the annual wellness check-up that Original Medicare covers, many Medicare Advantage plans cover a full annual physical and important screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Some plans will even help you schedule the appointment providing convenience and peace of mind.
  4. Stay on top of your medications. If your doctor has prescribed medications for you, it’s critical to take them exactly as prescribed. To help you stay on top of your medications, take advantage of special programs or delivery options your Medicare plan might provide. These might include programs that can lower your copays when you purchase your drugs at specific pharmacies, or mail-order pharmacies that can send a 90-day supply of your medications right to your home, sometimes for no extra cost.
  5. Ask for help. Experts are available who can help you find a doctor, schedule an appointment or learn about ways to save money on medications – and take the stress out of it. And it doesn’t have to take a ton of time. Call your current plan by dialing the number on your ID card. The customer service representative can answer questions about your plan for 2017.

Looking for more information and resources to help you navigate your plan? Visit