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Medicare Open Enrollment October 15 - December 7

10-13-2014 - You have the opportunity to make changes to your Medicare coverage during Open Enrollment. The annual Medicare Open Enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7, 2014. During this time period you may:

  • Switch to/from traditional Medicare A and Medicare B (run by the government) to a Medicare Advantage plan (also known as Medicare C, run by private companies). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services project that the average premium for Advantage will rise by $2.94, to $33.90. However, two thirds of beneficiaries will not see any increase. If may also switch the Advantage Plan you already have.
  • Select a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan. Kaiser Health Foundation reports that the number of Part D plans will decrease 14% in 2015, although beneficiaries should still have many choices. If your plan is going away, you should have already received notification rom the company. The average part D premium is expected to rise about $1 in 2015, although some people may pay more or less than this. 

If history repeats itself, most people, probably deterred by the time and energy required to research plans, will make no changes. That could be a costly mistake. Plans change, and you cannot assume that your current coverage will continue unchanged. Factors you should consider include:

  • Premiums
  • Deductibles
  • Whether your doctors and hospitals are in the plan's network
  • Whether your prescription drugs are covered by your Part D plan. Formularies change from year to year and going with a policy with low deductibles and premiums can cost you more in the long run if your prescriptions are not covered.

Fortunately, there is plenty of help available to you as you research what coverage to choose:

Medicare's plan finder for Advantage Plans and Part D Plans 

Florida's SHINE program (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders)

The 2015 "Medicare and You" booklet  

 

A final thought: Medicare Open Enrollment is high season for Medicare scam artists. Be cautious to the extreme. The most common scenario is a call from someone posing as a government representative, asking for personal information so that a new card can be issued. Provide no information or you could have your identity swiped. Also, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, remember it is illegal for anyone to try to sell you a Medigap plan. For an overview of common Medicare scams to watch out for, click here.

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