Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Twenty-three percent of Americans said they’d prefer cleaning toilets over researching health benefits according to the 2015 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey. Additionally, 38% said they’d rather clean their email inbox and 18% said they would rather do their taxes. Honestly, I’d expect this number to be even higher if the study asked about Medicare, specifically.
There are so many options and the information can be hard to understand. There are different types of Medicare, and then multiple options within each type. Just finding and accessing the information you need and that is relevant to you can be a chore on its own. Then, you must have a clear understanding of your healthcare needs and the details of each plan like eligibility, benefits, and requirements. If you’re feeling like the information is written in a different language, you are certainly not alone. This adds just another step to this already overwhelming process. Lastly, you need to sort through the plans that may work for you and conduct cost to benefit analyses to help identify the right plan for you. Sometimes it seems just easier to avoid it.
You’re right; this process can be incredibly time consuming. Depending on how much you want to know and how many plans you want to compare, you can imagine how many hours, days or weeks it takes to get your head around the information. Likely, there are many other, more enjoyable past times, you’d prefer to be doing. Additionally, to many people, the information isn’t very exciting, so it seems like hours are rolling by when they’ve only been reading for 20 minutes.
You’re healthy now, it’s hard to know what is important and why. You feel good, you’re taking care of yourself and haven’t had any health problems in the recent past. So, does reading about plans that cover major health issues seem interesting or relevant to you? Is it fun thinking about a time when you may be undergoing treatment, surgery or other health interventions? Probably not. Honestly, it can even be depressing. However, to be fully prepared and covered, you need to consider some of these things and think about how each plan will work for you in various, potential situations.
So, Make it Easier on Yourself
Be calm, and just go for it. Although the task can seem daunting, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t take the first step. Read information slowly and as many times as you need to; take notes and jot down questions; follow resources that provide objective, honest information; and meet with multiple people and resources to ensure you’re not being pushed into a plan that’s not right for you. Take a break when you need it to stay calm and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.
There are good resources out there, so find them. The evolution of the internet has made information much more convenient and fast to access. In addition to business and public organization information, you can find first person success and how to stories that can help point you in the right direction or steer you from a bad decision. However, you need to be sure the information is honest and objective. Some good resources are Senior Patient Advocates Medicare Minute Blog, Kasier Family Foundation Newsletter, and the Medicare Rights Center Newsletter.
Hire an insurance consultant before an insurance agent. An insurance consultant does not sell insurance, represents you, and can unbiasedly help ensure that you have or will select the right insurance plan for your medical needs. While both an insurance consultant and agent have their place, it’s critical to have an unbiased, conflict-free voice providing guidance and advice as you make important short and long-term healthcare decisions. Without this, you can easily end up in a plan that is too expensive, doesn’t provide the necessary coverage to meet your medical needs, or makes it difficult or impossible to get out of or switch coverage. As you make these critical decisions, make sure you’re aware of the interest of all involved parties.
Do yourself a favor, and enlist these tactics to make the process of researching healthcare benefits easier. Before you know it, cleaning the toilet will be the last thing on your list again.