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Make sure your doctors, hospital and medications are covered by your 2019 Medicare plan.

With the December 7th deadline fast approaching, now is the time to review or make changes to your Medicare plan.

Here are some tips:

Do compare plans. This is the number one piece of advice from experts. “Our research shows that very few people compare plans and even fewer change plans,” says Tricia Neuman, director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“This can be a costly mistake, both for your wallet and your health. Many seniors are on a fixed income where every dollar counts. It’s not easy to compare plans, but plan choice can really matter. Switching a prescription drug plan alone can save thousands of dollars,” she says.

Don’t focus on premiums alone. While premiums are important, it’s not the only factor to consider when evaluating and comparing plans.

“People often focus on premiums, but should also look at deductibles, whether a specific drug is covered by the plan, the cost sharing for that drug on the plan and whether the drug is on a preferred or non-preferred tier,” says Neuman. “The cost of non-preferred drugs can be 50% more that preferred tier cost. Check that you get a preferred rate at your most convenient pharmacy.”

Do know your costs. Keep your out-of pocket costs low by reviewing premiums, cost-sharing charges, drug formulary coverage and deductibles. Ask such questions as, “How much will it cost to see my primary care physician or specialist?” and, “Which home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities are in the plan’s network?”

Talk to your doctors and ask if they will remain in the plan and about your prescriptions. Will they stay the same? Will the dosage or frequency change? You need this information to estimate costs. Go to Medicare Plan Finder to see what costs to expect in the coming year.

Don’t auto-renew. Even if you like your current plan, you need to review the 2019 version to make sure your prescriptions, doctors, preferred pharmacy and hospitals remain covered.

“Plan changes can have a significant impact on out-of-pocket costs and access to the care and medications seniors need. Particularly with Medicare Advantage plans, which integrate all benefits, you need to check that the hospital used for routine care, as well as doctors, drugs and preferred pharmacy are in your plan’s network,” says Fred Riccardi, vice president of client services at the Medicare Rights Center.