Choosing a Medicare plan

Bill White

As inflation causes us all to stretch our dollars, the majority of Americans — including Rio Grande Valley residents — are likely focused on finding the best prices without sacrificing quality. Healthcare can be expensive, so picking the right insurance plan that meets your individual or family needs can be critical to maintaining a balanced budget.

Right now, during the annual election period Oct. 15-Dec. 7, people eligible for Medicare have the opportunity to select a plan that provides the affordability, convenience and benefits they want as well as the quality healthcare they deserve.

For the nearly 4.3 million individuals in Texas who rely on Medicare for their health insurance, I encourage you to make a list of what’s necessary to have in your plan and then think about what else you’d like to have included.

• Network of doctors and hospitals. If you have specific doctors and hospitals you prefer, make sure they are in network for the plan you select.

• More than medical coverage. Determine what benefits are important to you, based on your health status and medication requirements. Do you want dental, vision and hearing coverage? What about prescription drug coverage?

• Additional benefits. If you need transportation assistance to and from doctors’ appointments; allowances to cover out-of-pocket dental, vision or hearing expenses; access to fitness programs; or services to support your mental health, these are all considerations when selecting a plan. If you’re interested in receiving care in your home, consider looking into a Medicare Advantage plan with providers that can provide care in the home, like CenterWell Home Health, which provides care in the home for those with acute or chronic health issues.

• Prescription drug coverage. Prescription drug coverage is included in many Medicare Advantage plans, but it is not part of original Medicare. Have a list of your medications handy, so you can compare estimated prescription costs as you evaluate plan options. Some plans even offer $0 copays for prescriptions.

Your list will help you determine if original Medicare or Medicare Advantage would best fit your lifestyle.

With all-in-one plans that include dental, vision, hearing and prescription drug coverage in addition to consumer savings of nearly $2,000 per year compared to what beneficiaries pay in original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans are increasing in popularity every year.

Take time now to research your options. There are many new Medicare Advantage offerings this year, so it is worth taking the time to evaluate your options to find the best plan for your healthcare needs — and your wallet.

The Medicare Plan Finder on can help compare plans, benefits and get an estimated cost for each plan. For more information, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) 24 hours a day, seven days a week (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048). Additionally, you can learn about Humana plans, which are recommended by USAA, by going to or calling 1-888-372-2614 (TTY: 711) p.m., seven days a week to speak with a licensed sales agent.

Bill White is Texas Medicare president of Humana health care in Louisville, Ky.