Medicare is stronger than ever, with more benefits, better choices and lower costs to beneficiaries.
Expanded Medicare benefits under the health care law (the Affordable Care Act) continue to be available – including certain free preventive benefits, cancer screenings and an annual wellness visit.
Whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, take advantage of Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period to review cost, coverage or both for next year (2013). Open Enrollment runs through Dec. 7.
Your health needs change from year to year. Your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year, too. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices regularly. Open Enrollment is the one time of year when all people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.
It’s worth it to take the time to review and compare, but you don’t have to do it alone. Medicare is available to help.
If you qualify, you might pay no more than $2.60 for each generic drug and $6.50 for each brand-name drug. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for the subsidy, but are not currently enrolled to take advantage of these savings.
Even if you were previously turned down for extra help due to income or resource levels, you should reapply. If you qualify, you will get help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, copayments and deductibles. To qualify, you must make less than $16,755 a year (or $22,695 for married couples). Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some extra help.
Resources include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, but not your house or car. There’s no cost or obligation to apply for extra help.
David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).