People with Medicare coverage have until Friday, to enroll in or change their Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans.

Residents enrolled in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) have until Dec. 15 to determine their enrollments for 2019.

For Medicare, according to Deb Galloway, Humana Central and North Florida president, “It’s important to take this time to evaluate your healthcare choices. Even if you’re already enrolled in a plan, your insurance company’s drug formularies, provider networks and copays may change in 2019.”

There are four basic steps, she said, for an individual to decide which kind of Medicare coverage is appropriate:

Step one: Review your current Medicare health plan. Look at what you have spent on health care this past year, including hospital expenses and prescriptions. What you spent in 2018 will help you decide whether your current plan meets your needs, both financially and medically.

Step two: Research your options for Medicare coverage:

• Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) provides basic coverage for medical services and supplies in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other health care settings. It does not include coverage for most prescriptions.

• Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) includes all coverage under original Medicare, and typically also includes prescription drug coverage. It may also include dental, hearing and vision coverage, a nurse advice line, and a fitness program. Medicare Advantage is offered through private insurers.

• Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D) offers coverage for prescription medications. It can be added to original Medicare, a Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan, and some other Medicare plans, including some Medicare cost plans, and some Medicare medical savings account (MSA) plans.

• Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans, pay most costs not included under original Medicare, such as deductibles and coinsurance. These plans do not have a set provider network, and enrollment is not limited to the Medicare Annual Election Period, but they are often subject to underwriting.

Step three: Comparison shop. Consider a plan’s out-of-pocket costs, and its network of doctors and hospitals. Check to see if your prescriptions are on your plan’s list of covered drugs, as these can change each year. Compare plan benefits, such as dental, vision and hearing benefits; a fitness program, virtual doctors and behavioral health coverage.

Step four: Ask an expert — an insurance sales agent. Or you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). For TTY, the number is 1-877-486-2048.


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