For those of us caring for the elderly parents and relatives in our families, Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance are very important topics in our homes, aren't they? Ross Blair, President and CEO of Plan Prescriber, has written a two-part guest post for SandwichINK, with important news and information for all of us boomers and seniors dealing with these topics. I know much of this was new to me and I thought it would be helpful for you as well.
Cost Savings Tips for Medicare Annual Enrollment. Also, 65% of Seniors Unaware of Enrollment Date Changes
The health reform law has made some important changes to Medicare that go into effect in 2012. Whether you’re approaching age 65 or already enrolled in Medicare, the annual enrollment period (AEP) for next year’s Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans is right around the corner – and it’s starting a month earlier.
Before 2012 begins, we’ve outlined the six most important things people on Medicare should know to ensure they pick the best Medicare Advantage or prescription drug coverage for their specific needs.
- There are new Medicare annual enrollment dates. Generally, most Medicare beneficiaries can change a Medicare Advantage plan or stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan only once per year during Medicare’s annual enrollment period (AEP). The dates for AEP changed this year, and run from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 in 2011. And, if you want to switch from a supplement plan to an Advantage plan, the AEP is a good time to make that switch. BUT, the new AEP does not effect when you can enroll in a Medicare supplement plan, because these plans have an initial enrollment period that starts in the first six months after you enroll in Medicare Part B and are 65 or older. You can enroll in any supplement plan during that time and not be declined. But, if you wait until those six months are over, your application could be declined.
- Make way for baby boomers qualifying for “Original Medicare” at age 65. This year, baby boomers begin turning 65, which means more people will be enrolling in Medicare this year than in the past. All of these new enrollees will put more stress on Medicare enrollment experts. When you combine this influx of new customers with the new enrollment dates, people who wait until the last minute could be putting themselves at risk of running out of time or not getting the help they need to review their coverage and make changes, if necessary. It’s a good idea to make a plan and review your coverage options for 2012 early.
- “Newbies” be aware of deductibles, coinsurance, out-of-pocket limits and prescription drugs. If you’re new to Medicare, it’s important to know that both parts of Original Medicare (A and B) have deductibles. And, the deductibles are not tied to a calendar year like they are with traditional health insurance. Instead, they’re tied to a 90-day benefit period, with some exceptions. The Medicare Part B benefit also includes coinsurance after you meet your deductible. With coinsurance, Medicare pays a percentage of each bill (typically between 20 percent and 45 percent depending on the service) and you pay the rest. Original Medicare also has no limits on the amount you could pay out of your own pocket for covered medical services each year. And, Original Medicare does not cover the cost of most prescription drugs.
Be sure to check back on Saturday for the next three items on this important list. And thank you again to our guest author, Ross Blair, President and CEO of Plan Prescriber, a leading provider of comparison tools and education materials for Medicare-related insurance products.
P.S. Of course, as always, it's vital for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, caring for elderly parents, to double-check all facts and information with our own doctors, attorneys, and medicare personnel. Per Mr. Blair, "The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information provided by PlanPrescriber. " With that being said, I am very pleased to let you know that PlanPrescriber is an Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau and has an A+ rating. 🙂
P.P.S. Happy Pink Saturday!