Medicare benefits are a very valuable and essential tool for many older Americans. Nearly 60 million citizens in our country rely on their Medicare benefits each year. However, it has been found that many of the benefits that are offered through the Medicare program are overlooked, misunderstood or underused. As an example, many people fail to make use of their free annual checkup with their doctors. This is important for getting their health risks assessed. Less than 11 percent of beneficiaries on Medicare used this annual wellness visit.
This is not the only benefit under the Medicare plan that is going unused, however. It has also been found that many healthy senior citizens are passing up a variety of free preventative services which are offered annually as well. These can range from cancer screenings to bone mass measurements. Many of these things are passed up because those that are healthy generally think they are not sick. This is a sure way to miss an important diagnosis while it is still treatable. Services such as home health care options generally go unused as well because they typically come with complex applications and eligibility requirements.
Incentives For Medicare Benefits
If you are someone that needs incentives to maximize your Medicare benefits and get more out of your money, then there are at least thousands of them. According to some statistics for those enrolled in both Part A and B of Medicare, these beneficiaries spent around $6,000 each year out of their own pockets for things like doctor visits, Medigap and Medicare premiums, prescriptions and other health care costs. These statistics were conducted by the popular Kaiser Family Foundation. This number will be even larger when other considerations are taking in account. Many of these beneficiaries using Medicare have annual incomes under $26,000.
Ways To Maximize Your Medicare Benefits
There are many ways in which beneficiaries on Medicare can maximize their costs and get the most out of the services offered through their plans. Below are some of the top ways to get the most out of your Medicare plan.
•Use The Freebies- One of the best ways to get the most out of your Medicare is to use many of the freebies that are offered under your plan. Most beneficiaries do not even realize that there is a long list of things they can get without even being charged a co-payment. Some of these freebies include things like screenings for depression and cardiovascular disease, certain vaccines and counseling to quit smoking. When you are enrolled in MedicarePart B, you are also eligible to get a free preventative visit with a doctor within your first year on the plan. This is referred to as your “Welcome To Medicare” preventative visit.
- Choose Best Provider – Another way to get the most out of your Medicare insurance is by making sure to choose the best provider. While finding a good doctor to see is important, you should also look to find Medicare-approved doctors who accept full payment for services. This means that you won’t have to worry about getting a bill for more than what is established as your deductible and co-insurance under your Medicare plan. Look for doctors in your area that accept “assignments” under your plan.
- Save Money On Prescriptions – Everyone knows that certain prescriptions can really put a dent in your bank account. When you are enrolled in Medicare Part D, you can find that you will typically pay less for your drugs when you stick with your plan’s preferred pharmacies. Also, be sure to look through the formulary of your plan. Most plans offer different cost-sharing tiers. If you are on specific types of drugs, look to see if you can find it in one of the more affordable tiers in your plan and then ask your doctor if they believe that is appropriate for you.
- Review Home Health Benefits – It can sometimes be difficult to get approved for some of the home health benefits that are offered under the Medicare plans. However, even for those patients who meet all of the necessary requirements, visits can still get denied inappropriately. One of the main causes of the denials is that even many beneficiaries are wrongly told that their health coverage would be cancelled because of their health conditions not improving. However, improvements are not always a requirement to get home health care. In many cases, Medicare will help to cover home visits as long as a beneficiary’s condition is either maintaining or is causing the decline in health to slow down. This can be an important piece of information for patients dealing with issues such as stroke, Alzheimer’s and paralysis.
- Fight For Your Rights – No matter what, it is essential that you never stop fighting for your rights as a Medicare beneficiary. If you feel you have been denied the benefits you are entitled to, get some allies to come together on your behalf. They can include patient advocacy groups, your doctors and your state’s insurance assistance program. These people and groups can help you to fight for your health benefits. Always take time to review your Medicare summary notices as well. These notices will show the services and the supplies that were billed to your plan. If you find any claims that ended up getting denied, call the provider first. In some cases, the problem can be a simple misunderstanding or billing code error that can be simple to fix.