Medicare Enrollment Periods & What to do if you Missed Enrollment #1!!!!

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Second Enrollment Period for Medicare Enrollment Ending Soon!

Even though the first enrollment period runs from mid-October to December of each year, there is normally a secondary enrollment opening as well. Some do not know about this small window of time, from January 1 through February 14th. Although some of the features that you would’ve been able to change in enrollment period #1 will not be able to be changed in enrollment period #2, you are still able to change major plan issues.

Below you will find facts about Medicare Open Enrollment, and general information about Medicare!~

Medicare Open Enrollment Dates for the 2014 Medicare year are October 15, 2013 through December 7, 2013. This means that you’ll need to collect your information, compare prices on plans, even talk to your doctor to ensure that you are getting the right type of coverage for your needs.
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The second enrollment period for 2013 Medicare benefits is coming to a close quickly!! February 14, 2013 is the LAST day you can make changes without paying hefty penalties!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!!!

If you‘re not positive you can do it, DON‘T DO IT ALONE!! If you don’t understand something, ask for help! For more detailed information about signing up for Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) or Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), including instructions on how to join, visit www.medicare.gov. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
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Another helpful option is with your pharmacist. At many major local drug stores, they have the ability to print out all your options for your Medicare Part D insurance, plus it will show all the cost for each medicine you’re taking, as well. Often these are free, and many times the staff if more than willing to go over it with you.

 A missed deadline is not the end; in most cases..

If you missed the deadline, you may have to wait until next year before you make changes, or you will pay penalties and higher premiums.
However, there is a second enrollment period from January 1 to February 14. During this time, you can:
     If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can leave your plan and switch to Original Medicare.

     If you switch to Original Medicare during this period, you will have until February 14 to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after the plan gets your enrollment form.

Timing matters when you’re joining Medicare.

When you turn 65 or otherwise become eligible for Original Medicare (Parts A and B), enrollment windows open. But some of these windows will close quickly. If you wait until later to sign up, you may have fewer choices, and you may pay more. During Open Enrollment Period, you can:

     *Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.

     *Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.

     *Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.

     *Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.

     *Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a    Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.

     *Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

     *Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another.

     *Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

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There are two ways to get Original Medicare (Part A and Part B)

Choose Original Medicare on its own, with the option to add Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. If you collect benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you will automatically get Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). There is a premium for Part B. If you don’t want to keep Part B, you must follow the directions when you get your Medicare card, indicating you don’t want it. Otherwise, you will be charged.

Or choose a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan that bundles Original Medicare with extra benefits and may include prescription drug coverage in one plan. Medicare Advantage Plan is like an HMO or PPO. You may have to go to doctors within their service network or pay higher co-pays for going out of network.

What you pay for the Medicare costs may be larger than you expect

Medicare, the traditional benefit provided by the government, doesn’t cover all medical expenses. For example, approximately of 20% of physician fees are paid by the Medicare beneficiary. Seniors often find themselves paying out-of-pocket for many of their healthcare expenses.

 Medicare Advantage Plans pick up where Medicare leaves off

A Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another Medicare health plan choice you may have as part of Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. This insurance provides your Part A, Part B and oftentimes, Part D coverage. You use a Medicare Advantage card for health care.

Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care every month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. These companies must follow rules set by Medicare. However, each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs and have different rules for how you get services (like whether you need a referral to see a specialist or if you have to go to only doctors, facilities, or suppliers that belong to the plan for non-emergency or non-urgent care). These rules can change each year.

Do you know how much you’re paying? You should!!

When you’re deciding whether or not to add, change or drop plans, pay attention to what you’re paying. Look at your total out-of-pocket healthcare expenses from last year. It’s not just the premium, but check to see what may have changed with the deductible, co-pays, prescription drug costs.

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 You’ll never hear this anywhere else, but doing nothing is an option

If you don’t make any changes during Medicare Open Enrollment, your existing plans will rollover at the end of the enrollment period with no changes and your existing coverage will remain in effect throughout 2013.

Don’t be shocked if you cannot just “change it back” or “switch back” to previous plans

An insurance agent might say that “if you don’t like the Medicare Advantage plan, you can just switch back.” But it’s not that easy. You can get stuck in a plan. You can only drop Medicare Advantage during certain time periods. In recent years, a new “dis-enrollment period” for Medicare Advantage plans is offered. From January 1 through February 14, a senior can disenroll if they are unhappy with the Medicare Advantage Plan they purchased. They can go back to regular Medicare coverage and, if they wish, pick up a prescription drug plan. (But beware: Medigap is different. Once you give up a Medigap plan, you might not be able to get it back.)

If you are new to Medicare, and need to sign up, please visit:
www.medicare.gov

If you are a care giver to a person who is on Medicare, check out what their website offers to you!

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www.medicare.gov/caregivers

Stay tuned to future blog posts that will have the information on FREE services offered by Medicare!!

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