Saturday, October 15, 2011

Medicare Open Enrollment Period Begins Today

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period -- which begins earlier this year on Saturday, October 15 – has been expanded to last seven weeks and will end on December 7.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded the enrollment period by a week as compared to previous years in which the election period ran from November 15 to December 31.  Medicare beneficiaries will have more time to find a suitable plan, but some still may think they have until New Year's Eve to decide.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently stated, “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare can get certain preventive services for free and can get more affordable prescription drugs."  She added that “open enrollment is seniors’ chance to review their Medicare choices and pick the plan that works for them, or keep the plan they have today.”

Medicare beneficiaries now can begin reviewing the 2012 quality ratings for Medicare Advantage Health Plans (Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D) for the upcoming year.  This year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is highlighting plans that have achieved an overall quality rating of 5 stars with a high performer or “gold star” icon so people with Medicare can easily find high quality plans.  People with Medicare can switch to an available 5-star plan at any time during the year; however there's no guarantee that 5-star plans will be available in all service areas.

Resources for Medicare Beneficiaries

Medicare beneficiaries can review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings, using many resources, including:
  • Visiting, where you can utilize the website's plan finder to compare costs and coverage of the plans available in your area.
  • Calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about coverage options.  TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.  Multilingual counseling is available.
  • Contact Us if you would like personalized assistance comparing available plans in your area.