Every year from October to December, seniors need to sign up for the next year’s Medicare Advantage plan ... or stay with the same one. Sometimes the choices are difficult. This year it will be even harder, due to changes that have been made to the plans.

In the past, if you needed a wheelchair ramp to get in and out of your house, the expense for that was on you. Medicare would, of course, pay for surgery and a hospital stay if you fell down the stairs trying to get out of the house because you had no ramp, but they wouldn’t pay for the ramp. What if a $200 window air conditioner could help you stay out of the hospital on bad-air days? You would have to pay for it.

In other words, many kinds of makes-sense help haven’t been allowed by Medicare. Now, in many cases, they will be.

But not for everyone. And not in all locations. And maybe only this year but not next year. That’s where extra scrutiny will be required. When your Medicare plan information comes in the mail, don’t assume you’ll just stay with the same one. Compare and study the plans.

Look at the network you’re in, and find whether there have been significant changes, especially in the number of specialists. Make sure Medicare Advantage plans are even available for your area. In more than 100 parts of the U.S., they’re not.

If you have questions about how to choose an Advantage plan, or even switch to a Supplement plan, start with your State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP). Find that at the Seniors Resource Guide (seniorsresourceguide.com). Call early for an appointment, because there might be many more seniors this year looking for help.

©2018 King Features Synd., Inc.


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