(NewsUSA) - The Medicare Annual Election Period takes place this fall from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. It's a time for people with Medicare to make important decisions about their health care.
There are many factors, in addition to premiums and medical provider networks, to consider when researching the Medicare plan that best meets your health and budget needs for 2018. Knowing the benefits offered by Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans -- both offer enhancements to Original Medicare -- will also be key in your decision making.
Here are five common hiccups Medicare beneficiaries may experience when considering their options:
* Your monthly payments are not the only thing to consider. After you analyze your previous year's plan and assess the most affordable option for the coming year, including extra costs that can be incurred down the road, consider the total value of the Medicare plan you select.
* Your drug coverage is not the same everywhere. Drug prices can vary depending on your location, pharmacy and how much you've used your prescription benefits. Make a list of your medications and consider prescription drug plan options that include mail-order.
* Your plan is not just for medical visits or emergencies. People living with a chronic condition may want to look for plans offering personalized care, such as health coaching. Many Medicare Advantage programs also offer benefits, such as fitness programs, for maintaining healthy, active lifestyles.
* You may not need the same plan as your spouse/significant other. It's important for spouses to sit down and assess your health needs, and doctors and hospitals. This ensures your Medicare plan makes sense for your health, budget and lifestyle.
* You're not on your own in making this decision. Utilize free resources, such as licensed Medicare health insurance agents, Medicare.gov or go to Humana.com/Medicare, to help identify the best plan for you.
You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY: 1-877-486-2048 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 2018 Medicare plan information. Or you can call Humana at 1-888-204-4062 (TTY users can use 711).
Understanding the resources and tools at your disposal will allow you to take "advantage" of all the benefits Medicare plans have to offer in 2018.
Humana is a Medicare Advantage [HMO, PPO and PFFS] organization and a stand-alone prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal.