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Medicare News

Seniors Flock to Medicare Preventive Services, Drug Discounts as Enrollment Period Opens

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month – good time for free meeting with your doctor (see Medicare Options 2012 at a glance)

Oct. 6, 2011 – With the annual period for those in Medicare to make changes in their plans about to open on October 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announce that 20.5 million have taken advantage of the free Annual Wellness Visit or other free preventive services this year. Another 1.8 million have received drug discounts in the Medicare Part D “donut hole” of almost $1 billion through August.

The average savings per patient receiving a discount in the drug program’s “donut hole” has been $530. This discount and many of the free preventive health exams offered in Medicare were added by President Obama’s health care plan, the Affordable Care Act.


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Medicare Enrollment Opens Oct. 15 - Ends Dec. 7, 2011

Open enrollment begins October 15 rather than November 15 - Sept. 12, 2011

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Through July about 1.3 million with Medicare save on donut hole drug discounts; 18.9 million get free preventive care - links to info to help you save

Sept. 8, 2011

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“October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month – a great time for women with Medicare to schedule a free Annual Wellness Visit with their doctors. At that visit they can talk about their personal risk for breast cancer, if they should have a mammogram or how often to have one,” said Dr. Don Berwick, CMS Administrator.

“If you and your doctor decide that a mammogram is in order, Medicare will cover that preventive screening annually, free of charge. Already more than 4 million women have taken advantage of that benefit this year.”

Plan Finder for Annual Open Enrollment

The growing number of people who are taking advantage of preventive benefits and prescription drug discounts comes as people with Medicare are beginning to review their plan options for next year. The popular web-based Medicare Plan Finder is now available to help beneficiaries, their families, other caregivers, and senior program advocates look at all local drug and health plan options that are available for the 2012 benefit year.

(See below story - Your 2012 Medicare Coverage Choices at a Glance)

The annual enrollment period begins earlier this year than last year, on October 15, and runs through December 7. People with Medicare will have seven weeks to review Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug coverage benefits and plan options, and choose the option that best meets their unique needs or keep the plan they have today.

The earlier open enrollment period also ensures that Medicare has enough time to process plan choices so that coverage can begin without interruption on January 1, 2012.

2012 Prices Lower for Medicare Advantage

Every person with a Medicare Advantage or a Part D drug plan will also see better value in those plans for the second year in a row. Average Part D drug plan premiums will remain virtually unchanged in 2012.

Those in the Part D coverage gap, or donut hole, will continue to be able to get discounts on covered brand name drugs in the donut hole. People with Medicare will get deeper discounts in the years ahead until the gap is closed in 2020.

On average, Medicare Advantage premiums will be 4 percent lower in 2012 than in 2011, and plans project enrollment to increase by 10 percent. All beneficiaries will have access to Medicare-covered preventive services with zero cost-sharing, including the Annual Wellness Visit, bone-mass measurement, colon cancer screenings, and diabetes screenings, as well as influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, to name a few.

 “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more people with Medicare are getting preventive services like mammograms for free,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“The new health care law is also making prescription drugs more affordable for millions of seniors and people with disabilities.”

Some of the key free preventive services available to people with Medicare include:

   ● Mammograms and cervical cancer screenings

   ● Annual Wellness Visit

   ● Cholesterol and other cardiovascular screenings

   ● Colorectal and prostate cancer screenings

Key Links

   ●  Medicare Plan Finder, go to:

   ● Information about how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time, go to:

   ● State-by-state information on the number of people who are benefiting from discounts in the donut hole in 2011, go to:

   ● State-by-state information on utilization of free preventive services and the Annual Wellness Visit, go to:

   ● Information on Medicare’s prevention benefits, go to the Share the News. Share the Health! website: call 1-800-MEDICARE.

   ● More about Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Your 2012 Medicare Coverage Choices at a Glance

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