Local Medicare provider VIVA Health offers 4 star plans, help deciding what’s right for you

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s time for Medicare recipients to think about their Medicare insurance for 2017.

Lisa Hey with Viva Medicare helped us understand some of these important benefits that you should consider right now, before time runs out.

AEP is underway right now, and wraps up in a matter of days. Hey explained what AEP is and what it means to you.

“AEP is the annual enrollment period that happens every year from October 15 through December 7.  It’s this time of year that people who have original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare type plan can make adjustments to what they have what,” Hey said.

If you’re one of those people, you may be wondering what your options are.

“Basically there are two options in order to get comprehensive coverage through Medicare. Someone can choose to use their original red, white and blue Medicare card. Typically, it covers about 80% of services. You can have what’s called a standalone supplement which will come in and supplement the red, white, and blue card and cover usually about the 20% that’s left over. And someone can add what’s called a stand-alone prescription drug plan or also called Part D,” Hey explained. “There are three separate plans, three separate premiums but when combined they give you comprehensive coverage.”

Or, you can do what’s called the Medicare Part C plan—that’s also known as Medicare Advantage, and Viva Medicare offers that plan.

“The good thing about this plan is it takes all three of those things and combines into one plan through a private insurance company, so it’s more all-inclusive,” Hey said. “Another benefit to this is, typically, it can offer someone lower more affordable premiums.”

So, what should you consider when researching enrollment plans? Hey says to first consider the premium and co-payments

“You want to make sure that you’re okay with the premium and the co-payments that come along with the plan,” she said. “Next you want to make sure that all of your physicians are covered and you want to make sure that all of your drugs are covered.”

You’ve probably heard about “star ratings” when talking about Medicare. Basically, it’s how Medicare stacks up all the different options in terms of quality.

“Medicare each year rates insurance, Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug plans on what’s called a star quality rating. And this is very important because it tells you how an insurance plan rates when it comes to quality and performance. So what they do is they rate each plan between 1 star and 5 stars; 1 being the worst and 5 obviously being the best,” Hey described. “So it’s very important to look at this rating to see what it is that you’re getting when it comes to a plan. And you can actually find this rating if you go to www.medicare.gov. You can click on the plan finder, enter your zip code and it will take you to all of the different plans available in your area. And it’ll give you the star rating. Viva Medicare is excited, because for the past two years we’ve received a four-star [rating], which is great and that’s something to be very proud of, and something you definitely want to look at when choosing a plan.”

All these plans and ratings can still be pretty confusing. There are plenty of resources out there that will help you make the tough decisions. Hey recommends calling Viva Medicare at 888-8300-VIVA, visiting their website: www.makingmedicareeasy, or stopping by one of their cafes or their Birmingham welcome center (click here to find a location near you).

We hope this information makes AEP a little easier for you this year, and don’t remember, the deadline is soon—Dec. 7, 2016.

“Don’t wait until the deadline. Don’t wait until the day after,” Hey stressed. “Make sure you do reach out to get the assistance you need, prior to that deadline.”

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