For the millions of Americans aged 65 and older, Medicare is a critical source of health care.

To help you choose a plan and get the most from it, consider these tips from the experts at Cigna-HealthSpring:

• Understand your benefits. Plans can vary widely, and certain plans go beyond the basics to include such benefits as transportation assistance to doctor appointments, fitness classes, discounts on delivery of covered prescription medications and even nutritious meals after a hospital discharge. Taking the time to understand all the benefits offered by your plan can help you make the most of them.

• Know your network. Seek out health care providers who will offer you support in navigating a complex health care system, saving you time and money. Your team of providers should commit to getting to know your needs and delivering coordinated care. Also, before making an appointment, be sure your favorite doctors and pharmacies are within your network.

• Leverage preventive care opportunities. Preventive care saves lives and helps you delay or avoid the onset of disease. So, schedule your annual check-up and keep your appointment. Get to know your doctor and ask about what screenings you need for your age and background.

• Get active. Incorporate exercise into your routine; it’s essential to healthy aging. While, original Medicare doesn’t cover gym memberships or fitness programs, a number of Medicare Advantage plans offer such benefits as part of their coverage at no extra cost.

• Use free resources. Have questions? Many insurance plans offer no-cost, no-obligation seminars explaining plan details. You can also check health plans’ websites or call their customer service team for more information.

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