Six money-saving tips for the 2012 Medicare annual open enrollment by Steve Gulas, Bolte Insurance

1. This year Annual Open Enrollment is October 15, 2012 to December 7, 2012.

If you wish to enroll or make a change in your Part D Prescription Drug plan or Medicare Advantage Plan this is the time frame in which you will need to act. In order to select a different plan to be effective for the 2013 benefit year, you will need to complete your enrollment within these dates.

2. Re-shop your Medicare Supplemental Plan.
Medicare supplemental plans are not subject to the annual open enrollment time period so you may change supplemental plans any time of the year. Supplemental plans are standardized by plan letter. That means coverage is identical from one company to another based upon the same plan letter. If you have had the same supplemental insurance plan for several years, shop your coverage to make certain your pricing is competitive. Also consider looking into different plans. If you have Plan C or F, consider the premium savings benefit of switching to Plan G, Plan N or even high deductible Plan F. Plan C and F are two of the most benefit rich plans you can purchase, however they may not always be your best value.

3. Evaluate your Part D prescription drug plan.
This is much easier than many people think. Medicare has a great web site in which you can input your prescription medications. It allows you to easily compare the premiums and out-of pocket costs that you would have in all the plans available in your county. Go to and click on Compare Drug and Health Plans. This web site will also let you know if generics are available for any medications you are taking and show you what the cost savings may be by switching to them.

4. Consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Medicare Advantage plans can be a great value, but they are not for everyone. Most Medicare Advantage plans have low premiums and some counties even offer plans with NO or $0 premium. Most of these plans are HMO or PPO style plans. Be certain to look into and understand the out of pocket costs of the plan in the form of deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance for medical services. Know the plan’s annual out of pocket maximum. Many of these plans may also include some benefits that are not included in original Medicare, such as limited dental and vision benefits and the ability to use a fitness center as part of enrolling in the plan. Benefits and out of pocket costs in these plans can vary significantly from plan to plan, so it is important to have a good understanding of how these plans work prior to enrolling in one. You can visit to see plans that are available in your county.

5. Review your medications with your doctor.
Many people are taking very expensive medications when generic or other lower cost medications may be available to treat the same condition. Be certain to talk with your doctor about the prescriptions you are taking and ask him/her if there is a generic option or another lower priced medication they may recommend to treat your condition.

6. Save time researching Medicare plans by working with an independent insurance agent who represents multiple Medicare plans.
An agent authorized to represent multiple plans should be able to save you time researching plans. With their knowledge of different plans, after listening to your plan needs, your independent insurance agent will be able to make this process much simpler for you.

If you are looking for a local agent to help you select a Medicare plan call Steve Gulas or Chuck Devore at Bolte Insurance Agency 419.732.3111. They are authorized to represent multiple plans.

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