Benchmark Financial on major changes in Medicare annual enrollments – LIVING WELL Magazine

Major Change in Medicare Annual Enrollments!

By Tucker Thompson, Benchmark Financial, Collin LIVING WELL Magazine

Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Part C – Advantage Plans [HMOs, PPOs PFFS, SNPs] and Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Plans is Oct. 15 until Dec. 7, 2011 with coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2012. Do not forget the new deadline to enroll or change is Dec. 7, 2011 for both!

Medicare Part C – Advantage Plans: It is very important before signing up for an Advantage Plan to call your doctors and hospital(s) you like to ask if they “accept” Advantage Plans! Not all doctors do, just like many hospitals won’t accept them unless it’s an emergency. For example, Baylor Hospital Dallas and M.D. Anderson Hospital Houston won’t accept Advantage Plans for hospital stays. Low monthly premiums can be attractive, but co-pays and out of network costs can quickly increase what you pay for medical care.

Medicare Supplements: Unlike Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplements are accepted by all hospitals and doctors that accept Medicare and can be purchased anytime during the year, but you may have to pass medical underwriting. If buying during “Open Enrollment” or a “Special Enrollment Period,” you won’t have to answer health questions.

Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Plans [PDP] Formulary: The list of drugs offered by each PDP is still the key to choosing the best plan for you! The deductible can vary with each plan and can be as high as $320. The deductible starts over Jan. 1 with the plan you chose for 2012. Once you and your plan have spent $2,930 for covered drugs you “enter” the “donut hole” or PDP “gap.” You will then pay 50% of the plan’s cost for covered brand-name drugs and receive a 14% discount for covered generic prescription drugs in your plan. When you and your PDP have paid a total of $4,700 you will begin “catastrophic coverage.” Your monthly premium does not count towards this gap.

Premiums for Medicare Part B have not been finalized for 2012. If Congress does not give Social Security beneficiaries a cost of living adjustment [COLA] for 2012, your payments for Part B will usually remain the same.

Tucker Thompson has worked in the insurance field for over 20 years. As a licensed, independent insurance agent he continues to be an educational speaker on topics related to Medicare and other insurance services.