If you are 65 years of age, you have until Dec. 7 to make one of the most important decisions you will make all year. You will decide whether to enroll in original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. Original Medicare is sponsored by the federal government; Medicare Advantage by a host of private for-profit companies. The decision you make can have major health and financial consequences.

Original includes Parts A, B, and D. Part A covers hospital care, Part B outpatient care, and Part D prescription drugs. Advantage Part C bundles A, B, and D, and may offer other benefits such as dental and hearing plans. Advantage’s popularity is based on the promise of lower premiums and caps on out-of-pocket expenses. However, Advantage plans may have higher deductibles and/or co-payments.

You should also be aware that most of the Advantage plans are HMOs although there are PPO plans, which have a prescribed network of doctors and hospitals. Your favorite doctor or hospital may or may not be in the network. Advantage plans may require a patient to get a referral to see a specialist as well as prior permission to obtain certain drugs or services; coverages can change from year-to-year.

If you live in Oak Park or River Forest and are interested in evaluating or re-evaluating your Medicare coverage you may want to schedule an appointment with Oak Park Township Senior Services at 708-383-8060.

Al Popowits
River Forest

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