The December 7, 2013 deadline for open enrollment for Medicare will be here in less than two weeks. There may be changes to your particular plan’s Part D and Part B, so reviewing these changes and deciding if you want to switch to another plan is what Open Enrollment is all about.
Some people also wrongfully believe that, with the Affordable Healthcare Act program (ACA) now open, that they have to change their Medicare coverage to one of those plans. To clear up any confusion you may have, here are some basic facts you should know about Open Enrollment for Medicare.
1. Plan rate changes. Kathleen Sebelius, head of Health and Human Services, advises that the average cost of the Medicare Advantage plan is projected to increase by $1.64 in 2014 from last year, coming to $32.60.
2. ACA switch? If you have a Medicare plan, you DO NOT need to switch to an ACA healthcare plan. You’re already adequately covered according to Healthcare Reform guidelines. If you’re not registered under Medicare, but have retiree health benefits, you too are also adequately covered and do not need to purchase an ACA exchange healthcare plan. If you want to change your existing Medicare plan, for whatever reason, seek help through MyMedicare.gov website and/or speak to a customer service representative there to help you choose a new plan.
3. Did The Age Eligibility Change? Many Americans are also under the wrong assumption that the eligible age for Medicare is now 68. Despite the proposal to gradually raise the Medicare Eligibility age over the next 10 years to 68, that has not gone into effect yet. It is still age 65.
4. Part D Deductible Change. The 2014 deductible fee will decrease to $310, which is $15 cheaper than 2013 rates. The “donut hole” gap in prescription coverage will also be $80 smaller as coverage limits have changed.
5. ANOC/EOC Changes. Medicare beneficiaries need to review information sent to them regarding Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) as their part D coverage could change what medications are covered, where to purchase your medications, or changes that may increase costs. If changes to your current plan will not meet your needs, you should switch to another Medicare plan that will.
6. Part B Changes? There likely will be some changes to Part B coverage this year as there have been the past 3 years. Current rates are frozen at 2010 levels, so some beneficiaries could see their premiums change.
7. Medicare Advantage Plan Changes? There are over 20 MAP’s and some of them may be subject to change including premiums, deductibles, co-pays, changes to procedures, doctor/hospital facilities covered. Some plans may be discontinued altogether. If your current MAP doesn’t meet your need, shop around for a different plan that will. These plans are administered through private insurance companies via a contract with Medicare.
8. Why Switch Plans? Each year, different changes may occur in Medicare benefit coverage, or you may have moved where availability of coverage is different, your health may have changed, or you may be traveling more. With open enrollment, you have the opportunity to enroll in a different plan that may meet your needs more at the present time.
9. Original Medicare Beneficiaries: If you’re on this plan, you likely have Part D, and will need to review any changes to that to understand how your costs may change. By reviewing available information/changes to your particular plan during open enrollment, you may find that a Medicare Advantage Plan will work better for you now and you can switch to that.
10. Beneficts of ACA on Medicare. The Healthcare Reform Act did enact some positive changes to Medicare plans such as improvements to prescription drug coverage and preventative screenings.
During Open Enrollment, Medicare representatives are available to help you sort through all your questions and make it an easier, smoother process for you. Check it out at MyMedicare.gov.