By Patty Vieira, Insurance Resources, LLC

The Medicare annual enrollment period is October 15 –December 7, which means it’s time to review and make changes to your health care plan. When doing so, it is very important to make sure you are enrolled in the plan that best fits your needs. One of the biggest concerns I hear from healthcare providers is that their patients change plans, and are unaware of changes they made to their out-of-pocket expense, and the ability to continue with their providers.

There are going to be a lot of very attractive Medicare Advantage plans this year that advertise a zero premium. While many clients enjoy these plans and there is a great premium savings, there are some drawbacks. These plans require a specific network of doctors and healthcare providers; this can be very tricky if you do not want to change your physicians, or would like to continue with specific facilities. It is important to verify that they are available in the new plan, and also confirm your potential out-of-pocket expenses. With the proper research, they can be an affordable option.

If you choose a Medicare supplement, you will pay a monthly premium to the insurance company. Because it’s a supplement to Medicare, as long as it’s a Medicare-approved procedure and the physician and/or facility is contracted with Medicare, you will have very little, if any, out-of-pocket besides your premium, and there are no networks or required referrals.

When open enrollment approaches, I see a large influx of part time agents, and like any other industry, you are going to have good insurance agents and bad ones. I always recommend working with an agent that is committed with Medicare products year-round, and is contracted with multiple companies that offer a large variety of plans. This will help insure that your needs are being met 100 percent.

An insurance professional will confirm all this information before even presenting you your options for the coming year. The right agent can be a life saver by helping you navigate through all the various insurance options, researching the plans your physicians accept, and coordinating the benefit options that will meet your unique needs. This can save you time and money, and help avoid a lot of frustration.

Listening to a client’s needs and gathering all the important information is critical. Failing to inform a client about both the advantages and disadvantages of each choice can result in a client being caught in a plan for the year with no ability to change until the next open enrollment. A good professional will want to encourage the doctor/patient relationship, and will assist you in finding a plan that will keep that relationship in place.

Have questions about Individual or Medicare Insurance? Patty Vieira is an Independent Insurance Agent with 28 years of experience. She specializes in simplifying Medicare Insurance plans and quotes, and finding the right plan to meet the unique needs for each client. Call: 480-220-7233, email:, or visit