“The assortment of Medicare coverage options is really mind boggling. Consumers don’t need to be Medicare experts, but they must have a grasp of Medicare fundamentals to avoid huge mistakes that include paying for benefits they don't need.
Minneapolis (PRWEB) November 18, 2010
Probably the most significant obstacle Americans face when they become eligible for enrollment in Medicare is that they simply don’t know enough about Medicare’s coverage options before they take action to enroll, says Chuck Smith-Dewey, founder of healthinsurance.org and the Medicare Resource Center, the site’s new section devoted to Medicare consumer information.
Now, as millions of Americans prepare to reevaluate their Medicare coverage options during the annual Medicare open enrollment period (November 15 through December 31), the Medicare Resource Center is inviting consumers to use its free interactive Medicare Smarts Self-Diagnosis tool to gauge whether they’re ready to make their initial Medicare enrollment decisions.
The Medicare Smarts Self-Diagnosis tool - at medicare.healthinsurance.org/quiz/ - is a brief assessment to test consumers’ understanding of their Medicare options and, based on their score, help them decide whether they understand the basics well enough to make informed enrollment decisions. “If you don’t understand basic Medicare plan options, we strongly recommend that you do some reading on the site before you approach a plan provider,” Smith-Dewey says.
Each answer in the Self-Diagnosis takes the user to a dedicated section of the site that provides a detailed explanation of the topic in plain English. Sections address Medicare plan options, Medicare enrollment and eligibility, the effects of health reform on Medicare, and provide a glossary of Medicare terms and frequently asked questions about Medicare.
“We know from our own experience as consumer educators that the assortment of options in the Medicare program is really mind boggling,” says Smith-Dewey. “Consumers don’t need to be Medicare experts, but they must have a grasp of Medicare fundamentals to avoid huge mistakes that include paying too much for benefits or paying for unneeded benefits.”
Newly eligible consumers often make a critical mistake by first turning directly to a carrier for information on Medicare plan options. “Consumers who don’t know the difference between Medigap and Medicare Advantage are at the mercy of the first carrier they call,” says Smith-Dewey. “If you contact an Advantage agent, you shouldn’t be surprised at all if the agent tries to sell you a Medicare Advantage policy – even if it’s not necessarily the right coverage option for you.”
Consumers should approach a carrier only after they’ve determined the coverage they need so they can avoid being steered into a plan they don’t need, Smith-Dewey says. Knowing plan enrollment dates can also keep enrollees from being pressured about impending enrollment deadlines.
Finally, consumers should also research Medicare plan pricing by taking advantage of online quotes from a reputable site such as healthinsurance.org before they call a carrier. “Knowing a price range gives our users a lot more confidence if they end up negotiating price with an insurance agent,” Smith-Dewey says.
Smith-Dewey says the Medicare Smarts Self-Diagnosis is a quick way for consumers to start their research by identifying the gaps in their knowledge. And it’s never too early to start researching.
“We’re all headed in the direction of Medicare. But even if you’re not closing in on Medicare eligibility yourself, you’re very likely to have a loved one who will soon be eligible and who will need your help sorting through options,” he says.
The Medicare Resource Center is a new section of healthinsurance.org, a free online source of consumer health resources, including information about affordable individual health insurance and Medicare coverage options. Access to free health insurance quotes – private and online – is available by visiting http://www.healthinsurance.org or http://medicare.healthinsurance.org.
Direct media inquiries to Steve Anderson at sanderson(at)healthinsurance(dot)org.
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