| Mon, Aug 22, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins on October 15

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Before the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins, it’s a good idea to review your current coverage.]The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP, is Medicare decision time. During the AEP you can join, switch or drop Medicare plans and make sure that you have the coverage you need for the year ahead.

To prepare for the AEP, it’s a good idea to review your health care needs and current coverage. Questions to ask include:

  • Has your health status changed in any way that might require more or different care, such as a new diagnosis? Do you foresee needing any procedures or surgeries in the coming year?
  • Does your current plan cover all the services you use? Are you paying for services you don’t need or use?
  • Are you comfortable with your current plan premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance? What were your out-of-pocket health care costs this year?
  • Is your current plan making changes for the coming year, such as increasing prices or adding or deleting covered services?

Armed with the knowledge and information you need, you can research your plan choices early and be ready to take action when the AEP begins.

AEP Starts on October 15

The Annual Enrollment Period starts and ends earlier in 2011 than in previous years. The new AEP dates are October 15 to December 7. The new AEP schedule will carry forward to 2012 and beyond.

Another change to be aware of is a reduction in out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs during the Medicare Part D coverage gap. If you have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the coverage gap is the time period during which you pay most of the plan’s discounted cost for your medications. In 2012 during the coverage gap, you will pay 50% of the price (plus the dispensing fee) for brand name drugs and 86% of the price for generic drugs. Once you reach the out-of-pocket limit, the plan pays 100%. You can find more information about this in the Medicare.gov publication, “Closing the Medicare Coverage Gap.

Changes You Can Make During the AEP

During the AEP, you can:

Any changes you make to your Medicare plan during an AEP become effective on January 1 of the following year. For example, if you change plans during the AEP in 2011, your new plan will go into effect on January 1, 2012. It’s important to note that Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are an exception, and you can join one any time throughout the year.

Find and Compare Plans

Once you know what changes you may want to make, you can use the Medicare.gov plan finder to find Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans in your area that may meet your health and financial needs. After you answer a few questions about your location and your health status, the plan finder will assemble a list of plans for you to review. You can:

  • Learn which Medicare Advantage plans have prescription drug coverage and which do not.
  • Compare estimated annual costs for different plans, including premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance.
  • View plans you may be considering side by side to compare costs and coverage.

You may also contact your local private insurance companies for information about the Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans they offer.

For more information contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Made Clear to learn more at 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods – Medicare.gov

Closing the Medicare Coverage Gap – Medicare.gov

Plan Finder – Medicare.gov

Y0066_110802_095437 File & Use 08142011