Medicare enrollment about to begin, experts say be wary of zero-premium plans

Medicament pills on medical blue background
Posted at 10:54 AM, Oct 14, 2022

It's that time of year when we're faced with big decisions regarding our health insurance. Open enrollment starts tomorrow for seniors who get coverage through Medicare.

"They can choose between traditional medicare, which is the program offered by the government, or they can select Medicare Advantage, which is the private plan option," said Meredith Freed, a senior policy analyst with KFF's program on Medicare policy.

Freed said there's a lot to consider when shopping for Medicare advantage.

Plans have different premium costs, many come with prescription drug coverage, and they offer a variety of extra benefits. But Freed said people should really consider the out-of-pocket limits when signing up.

"The maximum out-of-pocket limit in a Medicare Advantage plan would be $8,300 in 2023. So it's important for people look at out-of-pocket limits because they can vary across plans."

Experts also warn seniors to be wary of zero premium advantage plans. They're more popular than ever, but while not paying a monthly premium sounds enticing, experts say there's a catch.

"It's important to remember that even though it's called a zero-dollar premium plan, you still have to pay the part B premium, which is about $165 a month in 2023 and may be higher depending on your income,” Freed said.

Freed says another thing to look at is prescription drug costs, which can vary significantly. She recommends shoppers do their research before signing up.