Consumer Tips

Ten Questions to Ask Before the Medicare Annual Election Period

10 Medicare Questions to Help You Prep for the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Annual Election Period (AEP) which happens October 15-December 7. If you need assistance with a Medicare plan, please contact the licensed insurance advisors for the Union Plus Retiree Health Insurance Program at 888-719-0689 or at

10 Medicare Questions to Help You Prep for the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Annual Election Period (AEP)

  1. How much coverage do I need?
    Not everyone’s coverage needs are the same. How often do you see the doctor or specialist? Do you use prescription drugs on a regular basis? Do you have any medical conditions that require ongoing care? Be honest about your monthly and annual medical needs.
  2. What can I expect to pay in terms of premiums and out-of-pocket costs next year? 
    You want to be an informed Medicare shopper. Once you’ve picked a plan, look back at your estimates of what you can afford and what kind of coverage you think you’ll need. Does the plan you’ve settled on meet those criteria?
  3. What can I afford per month, or in an emergency? 
    You’ll want to factor in your income, from work (if applicable), Social Security, IRA and 401(K) savings, and other sources. Compare this with your regular expenses, including how much you may pay monthly toward prescription drugs. What can you realistically afford in terms of monthly premiums? What kind of deductible could you afford if you had a medical emergency? 
  4. Can I save money by switching to a different Medicare prescription drug plan? 
    It’s always worth checking to see if there’s a better plan for your needs, as prescription drug plans can change from year to year. Our licensed insurance agents can review your current prescriptions and see if there’s a better match for your needs. You could potentially save hundreds by switching to a plan optimized for the medications you take. 
  5. Is my agent recommending plans based on his or her commission? 
    You want to work with a licensed insurance agent that represents multiple insurance companies and can give you a broad range of choices. At eHealth, our agents are commission-blind and don’t get paid differently based on which plans they sell. 
  6. Should I look at a stand-alone Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with Prescription Drug coverage? 
    You can enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan to go alongside your Original Medicare Part A and Part B and layer supplemental plans on top of that to cover the gaps. Or you can look at Medicare Advantage plans which effectively replace Parts A and B and often provide prescription drug benefits too. Different rules apply for different plans, you can explore these choices with a licensed insurance agent. 
  7. How can I avoid gaps in my Medicare coverage? 
    Make sure you understand where and when you may be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses, and what your limits of those expenses may be. For any given Medicare plan you’re considering, ask your agent what the worst-case scenario may look like when it comes to out-of-pocket costs. 
  8. How can I make sure my preferred doctor is accepted? 
    Some Medicare plans utilize specific networks of medical care providers. Make sure you understand whether any new plan you’re considering will also cover your preferred doctors, or whether you’ll be required to switch. 
  9. Are there any specific benefits I do or do not need? 
    Do you need dental or vision coverage? Some Medicare Advantage plans provide these kinds of benefits. Others may offer complimentary memberships with local wellness programs and fitness centers. 
  10. Will I need coverage in more than one location? 
    Many people on Medicare like to travel, and some will spend half the year in the north and half in the south. If you like to travel, you should know that some plans rely on specific networks of doctors and hospitals. Make sure that you’ll have the coverage you need wherever you may be.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

Original title, "10 Medicare Questions to Help You Prep for the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Annual Election Period (AEP)."