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