Retiring in California: Helpful Tips to Choose the Right Medicare Plan

california right medicareIf you live in California, and are over the age of 65, you’re probably looking for the right medicare plan. 

You’ll find over 25 different plans to choose from. Plus you will find that each one offers different copays, alliances with pharmacies and providers, and premiums.


With so many choices, you need to review everything carefully so you can find a plan that’s best for you.

Retiring in California: How to Choose the Right Medicare Plan

If you follow my work, then you know that I am a longevity activist – born in 1960. I wrote a bestselling book on how to live longer, younger, healthier called Life is Long. I love doing whatever I can to help people age at their happiest and healthiest. With this in mind, below are some important things to consider before deciding between Medicare plans.

The Coverage Options

Look at your existing coverage. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it working for you?
  • Do you need to add something else before the upcoming enrollment period?
  • Are you happy with your existing doctors? What will changing doctors be like if you do?
  • Do you travel regularly or spend time at a vacation home for part of the year? How is your coverage during this time?
  • Are you taking any prescription medications regularly? Are you appropriately covered?
  • Do you have regular medical services or appointments? Does your plan support you?

While not all these questions will apply, they can help you figure out the coverage you need. 

Consider Your Current Insurance Plan

Before you enroll in Medicare coverage, review any insurance plan you’re now using.

Be sure to check with your insurance agent or a benefits representative so you can learn how the plan’s coverage will work with Medicare coverage.

Primary Care Doctors

california right medicare

If you want to stay with your current doctor or healthcare provider, you should find out if they participate in the plan you are thinking about.

For example, if you …

  • choose a traditional Medicare plan, you may have the option to stick with your existing provider
  • pick the HMO Advantage Plan, you’re required to select a primary care doctor from the list of pre-approved doctors

The PPO Advantage Plan offers more freedom. You don’t have to choose from any pre-approved, in-network doctors. But you’ll usually pay higher fees out of your own pocket.

Prescription Drug Coverage

Traditional Medicare parts A and B will not cover the costs of your prescription drugs. Want this insurance coverage, too?  You’ll need to purchase the Medicare Part D plan or the combined coverage with a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Second Home or Frequent Travel Considerations

right medicare agingDo you ….

  • travel in the U.S. often?
  • spend time at a vacation or secondary home for longer periods of time?

If so, choosing a traditional Medicare plan may be preferred. This insurance coverage is accepted at locations all over the country. And you won’t need to choose a primary care physician or to get referrals to visit a specialist.

For many people, this is a preferable option compared to having to choose from a pre-approved list of doctors.

PPO and HMO Medicare Advantage Plans will be limited to certain regional areas of coverage. If you go this path, you’ll have to coordinate the care you receive through your primary care physicians. Or you’ll have use a doctor or doctors who are a part of the pre-approved network.

The Cost

Medicare Part A plans cover hospital care. You get this at no additional fee.

Part B covers medical care. But you’ll have to pay a monthly premium.

Keep in mind that if you…

  • receive Office of Personnel Management, Railroad Retirement Board, or Social Security benefits, the Part B premium is automatically deducted from the benefit payment.
  • do not receive benefit payments, you will receive a bill for these costs.
  • select the Medicare Plan D coverage for your prescription drugs, you must also pay a monthly premium. The cost of this coverage is dependent on what plans are available in the local area.

Need more help finding the right medicare plan in California?

You’ll also find more info at the Medicare.gov website.

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