Medicare Open Enrollment Begins Saturday; More Benefits, Better Choices, Lower Costs
Affordable Care Act gives seniors with Medicare cheaper prescription drugs, free preventive services, and lower costs,
Oct. 12, 2011 - With more benefits, better choices and lower costs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is
encouraging people with Medicare and their families to begin reviewing drug and health plan coverage options for 2012. 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.
This longer period will give seniors and people with disabilities more time to compare and find the best plan that meets
their unique needs, says a CMS news release. Across the country, Health & Human Services officials will hold 150 events in the days leading up
to Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period to inform and educate people with Medicare.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare can get certain preventive services for free and can get more
affordable prescription drugs,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “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.”
Beginning today, people with Medicare can begin reviewing the 2012 quality ratings for Medicare Advantage health plans
(Part C) and prescription drug plans (Part D) for the upcoming year.
This year 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.
Using Medicare’s Plan Finder – available at
www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan – people will see the enhanced star ratings for
2012. In addition to the enhanced star ratings for 2012 and new “gold star” icon, Plan Finder users will see an icon showing which plans
received a low overall quality rating for the past three years.
“Over the past year, we have worked to improve health coverage choices for people with Medicare, and make it easier for
people to find a plan that is both a good value and meets their health care needs,” said CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, M.D. “Due to
these efforts, people with Medicare have good, meaningful choices for their 2012 plan options.”
In 2012, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, additional benefits to people with Medicare include lower prescription drug
costs through a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs in the coverage gap (also referred to as the “donut hole”), wellness checkups,
and access to certain preventive care with no copayments – a benefit that all Medicare Advantage plans will offer starting in 2012.
Resources for Medicare Beneficiaries
People with Medicare, their families and other trusted representatives can review and compare current plan coverage with
new plan offerings, using many proven resources, including:
● Visiting www.medicare.gov, where they can get a personalized comparison of costs and
coverage of the plans available in their area. The popular Medicare Plan Finder tool has been enhanced for an efficient review of plan
choices. Spanish Open Enrollment information is available.
● 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.
People with Medicare who have limited incomes and resources may qualify for Extra Help paying for their prescription drug
costs. There is no cost to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy. Medicare beneficiaries, family members, trusted
counselors or caregivers can apply online at
www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213
(TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.
Protecting Against Fraud and Identity Theft
During this Open Enrollment Period, Medicare recommends that people treat their Medicare number as they do their social
security number and credit card information. People with Medicare should never give their personal information to anyone arriving at their
home uninvited or making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services. Beneficiaries who believe they are a victim of
fraud or identity theft should contact Medicare (contact information above). More information is available at
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