Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's time to re-enroll in a Medicare D plan

It's time to re-enroll in Medicare D again. Even if you enrolled in a plan last year, you need to re-evaluate yours or your loved one's plan and re-enroll. Unfortunatley, plans change from year to year, and some plans will be discontinued. To start, go to the web link below:

Be sure to take your time and read everything you can about the different plans. While a Medicare Advantage plan provides you with a lower cost Medicare health insurance plan through a private company plus the drug plan, the benefits that you enjoyed under traditional Medicare will change. Some plans are offering no monthly premiums, but the plan does not have the same coverage rules as Medicare. Each year, the plan can change its rules, coverage, and premiums.

Each new enrollment affords you the opportunity to disenroll in the plan you had the previous year. However, you must wait until the next enrollment period, typically starting in November each year to change your plan.

Each of the plans vary widely, so it is very important to pay attention to detail when evaluating each plan. In some plans, you can pick your doctors only from the plan's network. In others, you can either choose doctors from in-network, or you can go outside the network. Some of the plans pay only for in-network care, while others will pay for care both in- and out-of-network.

You always have the option of choosing the traditional Medicare plan, but you always should consider enrolling in a Medicare D-only (pharmacy plan). The Medicare D drug benefit offers insurance that will pay some of your drug expenses and will protect you against very high costs. If you have additional drug coverage – from an employer or a state pharmacy assistance program, for example – this will reduce your out-of-pocket expenses more. There is an annual deductible, but the cost to you won't be more than the cap set by Medicare for the year. In 2007, the deductible was capped at $265.

Look for free counselling sessions by your local Office of Aging. Here in Berks County, PA, the Office of Aging and the Berks County Senior Citizens Council provides free seminars through the Apprise program throughout the county. Schedule link: