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Medicare News

Medicare Helps Seniors in Open Enrollment By Highlighting Five Star Plans

Period for changing Medicare plans open until Dec. 7; Affordable Care Act has saved seniors $1.2 billion on drugs this year

Nov. 7, 2011 - Senior citizens should be checking on the opportunities for changing to a Medicare drug or health plan that better meets their needs for 2012 during this annual Open Enrollment Period. Medicare says it is highlighting plans that have achieve an overall quality rating of five stars with a “gold star” icon on the Medicare’s Plan Finder.

This year the Enrollment Period is early and has been expanded by one week to run from October 15 to December 7. This will give people with Medicare more time to find the plan that best meets their needs, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Beneficiaries will be able to switch to any available five-star plan at any time during the year without having to wait for the next open season.


Related Archive Stories


More Than 25 Percent of Medicare Drug Plans Get Poor Ratings from CMS

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services putting these plans on notice: improve performance or face expulsion from Medicare

By Marilyn Werber Serafini, KHN Staff Writer

Oct. 26, 2011

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, says CMS - Oct. 12, 2011


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Seniors have saved $1.2 billion on prescriptions

So far this year, more than 2.2 million people with Medicare have saved more than $1.2 billion on their prescriptions, for an average of $550 per person, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. And more than 22.6 million seniors and people with disabilities have taken advantage of at least one free Medicare preventive benefit, including the new Annual Wellness Visit made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, seniors are getting cheaper prescription drugs and free preventive care,” said CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare can receive many preventive services at no charge, including diabetes screening, some cancer screenings and help to quit smoking.

People with Medicare across the country are also receiving cheaper prescription drugs. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, seniors and people with disabilities receive a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.”

The coverage gap discount is set at 50 percent on covered brand name drugs again in 2012. Coverage in the donut hole will progressively increase each year until the coverage gap closes in 2020.

In addition to donut hole discounts, average premiums for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans will remain virtually unchanged in 2012.

Medicare also recently announced that average Medicare Advantage premiums will drop 4 percent next year. Part B premiums, which cover outpatient services including doctor visits, will only rise $3.50 per month for most beneficiaries in 2012, and some will see a decrease. These changes will be more than offset by the average Social Security cost of living increase ($43 per month for retired workers).

Key Links

To look for a new Medicare plan - Medicare’s Plan Finder.

For more information about how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time, go to:

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

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

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


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