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Senior Connections: The Benefits of Medicare Advantage Dr. Amir Bacchus

This is a crucial time for seniors to make a health care decision that could save them money. During the Medicare open enrollment period, Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, Nevada's senior citizens will assess their health care needs and determine whether a Medicare Advantage plan is right for them.

As a physician and chief medical officer of HealthCare Partners Medical Group, I have a great deal of knowledge and experience related to Medicare Advantage plans. Those plans can be an excellent choice for seniors who do not have private supplemental insurance. Medicare Advantage plans typically provide prescription drug coverage, known as Part D, and eliminate the need to purchase a Medigap policy. The premiums also tend to be less expensive than original Medicare, Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medigap separately.

Medicare Advantage plans offer improved access to coordinated care and protection against high out-of-pocket expenses. It's also an alternative to what is known as Medicare Fee-For-Service for "original Medicare." For those living with a chronic medical condition, some Medicare Advantage plans offer personalized, telephone care management, health coaching, education and support from registered nurses and other health professionals. Flu and pneumonia shots are also covered in most Medicare Advantage plans.

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, it is essential to consider the costs, benefits and health care provider choices in each plan. You should take time to learn about "in-network" providers associated with the health insurance plan. It is important to know whether the providers have a reputation for offering high-quality, coordinated care and if they have a large enough network to meet your health care needs. Finally, you should also consider access to the primary care physicians, specialists and other providers you use on a regular basis under each plan. Consistency of care has numerous benefits, especially for those who feel comfortable with their current health care providers.

When considering your coverage options this fall, pick the plan that works best for you. It's a big decision, and I hope seniors explore their options during this year's enrollment period.

Dr. Amir Bacchus is the chief medical officer and co-founder of HealthCare Partners Medical Group. Bacchus received his M.D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1993 and is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine.



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