Preparing yourself with the proper tools helps to make any job a bit easier. If you are baking, you need the proper ingredients. When building something, you need hammers, nails and other related items. It’s the same when you are preparing for your Health Plan Open Enrollment session; or if you are a caregiver, for your person’s Medicare Annual Enrollment. The proper tools include questions you will need to ask yourself and those relating to available options.

Be sure you compare benefits before just looking at the premium amount.

■ Are you considering the best plan for you and your family?
■ What are the annual, maximum, out-of-pocket costs for the plan?
■ Is the plan mostly co-pays (set amounts) or co-insurances (percentage of the cost)?
■ Does the plan have a proactive prevention model that includes wellness classes, a fitness program, basic dental coverage and various ways to access the provider (your doctor or healthcare team), such as in-person and phone appointments, e-visits and video visits?
■ Are the provider locations convenient for you (doctor’s offices or medical facilities)?
■ Are there multiple services offered under one roof to help you spend less time in traffic and more time with family and friends?
■ Are you responsible for helping others find an option that fits their needs?
■ Do they have Medicare? The annual enrollment begins in October, so start looking at options.

Important question you’ll want to ask about health plans:

■ Do all of your providers accept Medicare and new patients throughout the year?
■ Does this plan have social workers or coordinators who can help you, the caregiver, meet the needs of the person you are caring for?
■ Is there a copay or coinsurance for this service?
■ Is there someone locally who you can meet with virtually or on the phone (for your convenience as a caregiver) regarding your questions?
■ Can they mail or email you the materials before you talk so that you have time to study the benefits and write down all your questions?

The complexities of Medicare and a group health plan can be daunting. Preparing the right questions can be one of your most effective tools.

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This information was provided by the Hawaii Kaiser Permanente Medicare Team as an educational resource.