Medicare Annual Enrollment: Five Tips to Survive the Season

CLEARFIELD – There are a few changes to Medicare enrollment this year.  It’s more vital than ever to check what your plan will cover in 2011.  Will it meet your health needs and budget?  Will it cover the prescription drugs you need?  If not, it’s time to find a new plan.    

            Here are some tips that will help you through the switch:

  1. Don’t miss your deadline.   There are new rules for when you can switch plans.
  • Part D and Medicare Advantage plan members can only switch plans between November 15- December 31, 2010.
  • There is one exception.  If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan and want to return to original Medicare you can do so from January 1- February 15, 2011.  You can also join a stand – alone Part D plan at that time.
  1.  Make sure your plan will be offered next year.  Plans come and go, especially when Medicare makes changes to how they pay the plans.  Be sure that yours will be around.  If not, start your search early for a replacement.
  2.  If your plan will continue, check to see what it will cover next year.  Insurers can change plan benefits, provider networks, and what they charge you per month or at the doctor’s office.  They will send you an annual notice of change that tells you what’s new.
  • What you will pay in monthly premiums and annual deductibles
  • What you will pay for doctor’s visits (co-pays or co-insurance)
  • If your drugs will  be covered and what you will pay out of pocket
  • If your doctor will continue to accept your plan
  • Which extra benefits will be covered, if any
  1.  If you want to switch, do your research.  Don’t just pick a plan because the sales agent tells you it’s great, or because your neighbor swears by it.  Use the tools on www.Medicare.gov.  You can enter your drugs and the pharmacy you prefer.  The program will tell you what plans are right for you and compare the costs.  And, you can enroll right then and there.
  2.  Still having trouble?  Get help from an APPRISE Counselor.   If you still need help,  give APPRISE a call.  Your local team at The Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging Inc. (CCAAA) can be reached at 814-765-2696 or 1-800-225-8571.  They will help you sort it all out.

APPRISE is a free health insurance counseling program designed to help older Pennsylvanians with Medicare.  Counselors are specially trained volunteers who can answer your questions and provide you with objective, easy – to – understand information about Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicaid, and Long –Term Care Insurance.

          Programs and services of the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging are funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Mature Resources Foundation, and local and client contributions.

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