Picking a Medicare plan for 2021

Here’s something you might not hear all that often about health insurance: Costs are staying the same or even going down.

That’s at least the case with some Medicare plans that Oregonians can enroll in now that the Oct. 15 – Dec. 7 open enrollment period has begun.

“The good news is that many of the premiums and copays have stayed the same – or actually gone down,” said Margaret Thornburg, vice president of claims and customer service for Moda Health.

That should bring some relief to seniors enrolling in Medicare for the first time and for those who’ve had coverage in the past.

There is also a new Medicare Advantage provider in Eastern Oregon in 2021, Summit Health. It will provide Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans for 12 counties in Eastern Oregon.

Thornburg said the government’s Medicare Plan Finder, available at www.medicare.gov, is a helpful way for people to compare different plans and help find the one that works best for them. The online tool, available for use on computers and mobile devices, lets people compare plans based on different benefits and features. For this coming year, the tool has also been updated to allow people to filter plans that offer new benefits, including dental, vision and hearing.

“It’s highly recommended that people go to medicare.gov and use the Plan Finder to compare plans,” Thornburg said. “It’s a very good way to compare options.”

When comparing plans, Thornburg said there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. The first is making sure that your current doctor is part of the Medicare plan you choose. She also said seniors need to pick a plan that includes prescription drug coverage that covers the specific drugs they need.

“You want to know what drugs the plan covers and at what cost,” Thornburg said.

For more information or for assistance choosing a Medicare plan, Thornburg recommends visiting www.medicare.gov or the Oregon Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program, a statewide network of trained volunteers who assist people with Medicare.

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