The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Two Key Dates


Television advertising will drop on both November 3rd and again on December 1st.  First, the never-ending Presidential election will finally be held on November 3rd – WHEW!

Second, December 1st is the end of the annual Medicare enrollment period and the end of those annoying television commercials – WHEW!  But, what should you do?

The textbook response is that you should closely compare your current Medicare coverage with what you will need for the next year, and then look for the policy that best suits your needs, focusing particularly on drug coverage.  Of course, that’s in a perfect world!  In fact, very few people change their coverage each year, because that comparison is time-consuming and too confusing for most people without medical training.  Unless you change it, your Medicare coverage just renews as it was last year.

Many people chose a Medicare Advantage plan, instead of the original Medicare plan.  An Advantage plan might include coverage for drugs, dental, vision, hearing, gym memberships, even meal delivery – benefits not available with original Medicare.  Advantage plans usually offer more benefits, often at reduced monthly premiums. So, more benefits at less cost?  What’s the catch?  Advantage plans take control of your medical life.  You cannot pick your own doctors and must use in-network providers, unlike original Medicare.  Usually, you need prior approval to see a specialist, unlike original Medicare.  Plus, some out-of-pocket cost can be higher.

If you live on a tight monthly budget, you might want to consider an Advantage plan.  However, if you have a high need to control, you might not be happy with an Advantage plan.  (Truth-in-blogging:  I have a high need to control my own medical life and don’t use an Advantage plan.)

Of course, when in doubt, always consult your financial planner.  If you don’t have one, what are you waiting for?  Your deadline to get one is right NOW!

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