Open enrollment for those covered by Medicare health and prescription drug plans begins on Nov. 15 and ends on Dec. 31. This is Medicare’s annual enrollment period that allows you to make changes to an existing plan that you are enrolled in or to choose a different plan.
While you have until Dec. 31 to make any changes, you should address them sooner rather than later so you can ensure that everything is in place before your coverage starts on Jan. 1, 2009.
Choosing a Medicare health plan can seem daunting so focus on the following factors when evaluating your options: cost, benefits, doctor and hospital choice, convenience, prescription drug coverage, and pharmacy choice.
It’s a good idea to review your plan even if you are happy with your existing coverage. Changes in premiums alone warrant a fresh look at your current plan. Health care costs seem to increase every year and Medicare premiums are no exception. The premiums on some Medicare plans have increased more than 50 percent on average during the past few years. You may find a plan that meets your current needs at a lower cost.
Keep in mind that premiums are only one of the cost factors to consider when evaluating a Medicare plan. Other important cost factors include changes in deductibles and co-payments. As with premiums, these costs are increasing in many plans as well.
To learn more visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at www.medicare.gov for more information and tools you can use to evaluate and compare your existing plan with the other options available to you. You can also get Medicare information by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
The author is solely responsible for the content.