I kept track of all my health care spending for several years before I turned 65. And for me, it was so much easier to understand what I needed, and what I could afford.

When it comes to choosing a Medicare plan, the choices can be overwhelming. The first thing you'll need to decide is whether you want Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Next, you'll have to figure out if you need to add prescription drug coverage.

Finally, if you choose Original Medicare, you can consider Medigap, which will help you cover costs not covered by Parts A and B.

Or if you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you should determine if you need or want the additional benefits some Medicare Advantage plans offer.

The best way to determine what plan is the best for you is to ask yourself questions about things like: the cost and number of prescription drugs you take, how many times you see your doctors, and whether you travel a lot. Once you figure out your health care priorities, it will be much easier to decide what would work best for you – physically and financially.

If you decide to go with a Medicare Advantage plan, there is a tool to help choose the right plan for you. Star ratings, compiled annually by Medicare, offers an unbiased opinion of different plans and makes it easy to compare plans based on quality and performance. Visit medicare.gov to find the star ratings of the private insurance companies you're interested in.

Well, those are just a few tips to help you choose a Medicare plan. To learn more about all your Medicare options, stop into an Independent Health Medicare Information Center and talk to a RedShirt. We're here to help you.

For more information, call Independent Health at: (716) 635-4900 or 1-800-958-4405 (TTY users call 711)

A sales person will be present with information and applications. For accommodations of persons with special needs at sales meetings, please call (716) 635-4900 or 1-800-958-4405 (TTY users call 711), October 1 – March 31: Monday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., April 1 – September 30: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.