A health plan decision is important. Simple research can help ensure that you get the best value for your money.

This year, Medicare enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7. Keep these key Medicare components in your mind as you look into your options

* Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B). Original Medicare covers both hospital insurance as well as medical insurance. A Medicare Supplement plan, sometimes called a Medigap policy, can be added to an individual’s Original Medicare coverage to cover any or all medical expenses not covered (including the majority of 20 percent co-insurance costs). Prescription drugs are not covered and you will need a separate plan through Medicare Part D.

* Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part C). Medicare Advantage plans can be purchased through Medicare-approved private firms. These plans provide prescription drug coverage as well as hospital or medical coverage. Additionally, some plans offer benefits like dental coverage and fitness memberships for those with chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Visit Medicare.govLearn more about the differences in the plans.

* Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D). For coverage of medication, anyone enrolled in Original Medicare must sign up to a standalone prescription drug plan.

“Before choosing a Medicare plan, do some homework”Alan Wheatley, President of Humana’s Retail Segment.”Ask your doctor about your potential health needs for the coming year, such as surgeries, non-surgical procedures, and additions or changes to medications. Think about your personal health goals and plans. For example, are you looking to join a gym to get in better shape for an active vacation?”

Next, go to Medicare.gov to review important details and compare plans:

* Premiums (how much it costs to buy a health plan)

* Deductibles and copays (how much it costs to use the plan)

* Out-of-pocket maximum costs (the most you would have to pay in the event of a serious health crisis)

Wheatley claims that Medicare.gov has other useful tools. It includes a 5-star rating system that rates the quality of different plans as well as a list of doctors included in each plan. “Medicare.gov also serves as a starting point to visit Medicare Advantage plan websites for further information,”He said.

To make the most of your Medicare coverage, education is key. You can make an informed decision about whether to stay with your current plan or change to one that is more suitable for you.

For more information, please visit www.humana.com/medicare.