Archive for October 24th, 2010

Medicare: Compare Health Insurance Changes

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

2011 will mark a year of many changes for Medicare beneficiaries.  “Medicare changes set for 2011″ in California’s Times-Standard summarizes the information shared from The Area 1 Agency on Aging.  The Agency’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) offers free services in two Northern California counties related to Medicare counseling, assistance, and notification of changes.  They help Medicare beneficiaries compare health insurance changes so that they know what to expect and change in the coming year.

Beneficiaries will now be eligible for an annual wellness exam each year without having to pay co-pays or deductibles.  This begins one year after their initial Medicare exam.  For those who reach the donut hole, or the gap in prescription drug coverage, they will pay about half as much for name brand medications and even pay a bit less for generic drugs.  These discounts will last all the way through 2019.

People looking to remove themselves from a Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in traditional Medicare will have a new enrollment period lasting from Jan. 1 through Feb. 15.  There will also be a new enrollment period for those wanting to join a prescription drug plan.  The HICAP encourages people to call them early and inquire about all the changes occurring with Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans because they expect to be busy.  Enrollment begins Nov. 15 and lasts through Dec. 31.

If they don’t make changes or additions during this year’s enrollment period, the dates will change for 2011 open enrollment.  That will begin Oct. 15 and last through Dec. 7.  At that time, beneficiaries can either change or join Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plans.  Whether you are insured through a smaller insurer like Aultcare health insurance or a larger company providing your Medicare benefits, it is important to know all of your options and any upcoming changes that could affect your benefits.