Medicare Annual Open Enrollment - Each year, people with Medicare get to explore new choices and pick the health and drug plans that work best for them. This year, the Open Enrollment period is starting earlier on October 15 and ending sooner December 7. Most people with Medicare can choose a "Part D" plan to help them pay for prescription drugs. And people who have chosen to enroll in a "Part C" Medicare Advantage plan for their basic health care services have the option of staying in that plan, choosing a different plan, or going back to the Original Medicare program.
During the Medicare annual enrollment period, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, all Medicare beneficiaries may change their Medicare coverage for the coming year. This includes anyone using traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage.
"By closely reviewing your Medicare coverage from this year and changes you expect in 2013, it's possible to see savings with your healthcare costs," said Mary Dale Walters, vice president of Allsup and the Allsup Medicare Advisor, a Medicare plan selection service for Medicare-eligible individuals. "It's important to get started early."
In addition to reviewing Medicare plan changes, beneficiaries should make sure they are taking advantage of savings provided through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
"The healthcare law is helping reduce prescription drug costs by gradually phasing out the donut hole, which is when Medicare beneficiaries must pay for medications out of their own pockets," Walters said. "It also has made it easier to take advantage of preventive medical services through Medicare."
What To Expect: Medicare Coverage 2013
Since it was passed, the ACA has helped nearly 18 million individuals with traditional Medicare get at least one preventive service at no cost with no deductibles or co-pays. The law also has helped nearly 5.4 million people with Medicare save more than $4.1 billion in out-of-pocket expenses on prescription drugs as it closes the Medicare Part D donut hole, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
As these benefits continue, Medicare beneficiaries can expect the following with their 2013 coverage:
According to Walters, most Medicare beneficiaries should receive their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their existing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan providers by Sept. 30.
"Take time to review the information you receive and look at all of your Medicare options," Walters said. "You may find more affordable coverage through a different combination of plans - whether Medicare Advantage or traditional Medicare with Part D and Medigap plans. Keep in mind that you may see a lot of ads for Medicare plans, but there could be a plan that's perfect for you that isn't getting a lot of attention with ads and mailers."
It's important to compare this year's coverage and understand the changes for 2013, especially when evaluating costs and anticipating healthcare needs for next year. "If finding the right Medicare plan becomes time-consuming, confusing or stressful, remember that an expert like Allsup can do the in-depth research, sort through plans, and make it easier to identify and choose the option that best meets your specific needs and lifestyle."
For an evaluation of your Medicare options, call an Allsup Medicare Advisor specialist at (866) 521-7655 or visit Medicare.Allsup.com
Ask questions and find Medicare resources during the Allsup True Help Disability Web Expo on Thursday, Sept. 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST. This free, live online event allows visitors to talk directly with Medicare specialists via the Internet. Register to attend at WebExpo.Allsup.com
ABOUT ALLSUP - Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. Visit www.Allsup.com or connect with Allsup at www.facebook.com/Allsupinc
The information provided is not intended as a substitute for legal or other professional services. Legal or other expert assistance should be sought before making any decision that may affect your situation.