Thursday, October 21, 2010

Medicare open enrollment 11/15, important changes this year

Healthcare reform made some changes to Medicare that make careful review of your options during open enrollment more important than ever this year. You have probably heard about cuts to Medicare, at least in the wide array of negative campaign advertising this election season, but actually Medicare coverage is expanded under the reforms, not cut. Medicare reimbursements to managed care plans is among what got cut, not benefits to seniors. Therefore, if you have been enrolled in managed care for your Part A and Part B coverages you may find in 2011 that traditional Medicare's expanded benefits may suit your needs better than they did in 2010 and before.

In particular, preventive care will have no copayments and not be subject to deductibles for Medicare starting January 1, 2011.

The Donut Hole is slowly closing under healthcare reform, as well. In 2011 Medicare beneficiaries in the donut hole will get a 50% discount on brand-name drugs and a 7% discount on generics, but the entire cost of the drug will count toward their out-of-pocket spending toward getting back out of the donut hole. The donut hole is eliminated entirely by 2020 under the current law.

So this year it may be particularly useful to review your Medicare enrollment options during the open enrollment period, because the changes in the law may make a new option more effective for you.

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