Help Standing By for Senior Citizens as Deadline Nears for Changing Medicare Plans
December 7 deadline earlier than past years for changing drug and health plans in new year
Nov. 28, 2011 - There have been more than 26 million pages views of the Medicare Plan
Finder, since the open enrollment period for 2012 began on October 15. And, it mostly surely will be even busier as the December 7 deadline
for changing Medicare drug and health plans for next year gets closer. Today Medicare reminded senior citizens today that there is a network
of partners and advocates available to assist with counseling and enrolling beneficiaries.
With just weeks remaining in the Annual Enrollment Period, Medicare’s popular consumer
resources – www.medicare.gov and 1-800-MEDICARE – are assisting beneficiaries, their families, partners and
“Seniors and people with Medicare should act now, review their plan coverage and compare
their current plan with other available options,” said Donald M. Berwick, M.D., administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
“The important decisions you make now can help ensure that any changes made will be in
place by January 2012 for seamless and uninterrupted access to your healthcare providers and medications at your chosen pharmacies.”
CMS recently mailed
Medicare & You (link to online pdf version) handbooks and postcards to more than 42 million
households reminding them of the December 7th deadline.
This year, as beneficiaries – senior citizens aged 65 or older and people with
disabilities on Medicare - look over their available plan options, they will see better value in the Medicare Advantage (Part C) and
Prescription Drug (Part D) plan benefits.
Medicare Advantage enrollees are now assured of the same access as other Medicare
beneficiaries to certain Medicare-covered preventive services at zero cost-sharing, including an Annual Wellness Visit. On average, Medicare
Advantage premiums will be four percent lower in 2012 than in 2011, and plans expect enrollment to increase by 10 percent.
Beneficiaries with Part D coverage who are in the coverage gap, or “donut hole,” will
continue to receive 50 percent discounts on covered brand name drugs thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which is often called “Obamacare” by
Beneficiaries have seen an average savings of $581 on covered brand name drugs, and an
additional $22 in savings on generic drugs – yet another reason to compare and choose the drug plan that best fits a patient’s needs.
Average premiums for Part D prescription drug plans will also decrease to $30 in 2012,
about 76 cents less compared to the average 2011 premium. The premium amount is based on bids submitted by Part D plans for the 2012 plan
year. Benefits in 2012 remain consistent with those offered in 2011.
“Before the December 7th deadline, we urge all people with Medicare to focus on Open
Enrollment and compare costs, coverage and their satisfaction with their current coverage with options for 2012,” Berwick said.
“Once you compare plans, if your current plan satisfies your needs for next year, you don’t need to do anything. If other
options are a better match for your needs, there is still time to change.
'Medicare’s Open Enrollment season continues to generate high levels of activity on
1-800-MEDICARE with our unbiased customer service agents, and our popular web-based resource: www.medicare.gov. People with Medicare and their
trusted representatives have used the web-resources from their homes or at counseling events around the country."
Enrollment opportunities are available:
Since the beginning of Open Enrollment (October 15) , online activities have surpassed 26
million page views across the Medicare Plan Finder web tool and open enrollment sections of
This is a special page created by Medicare to assist caregivers in helping those on Medicare -
● On the phone:
1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) continues to be an important 24/7 resource for
personalized assistance during Open Enrollment. More than 3.4 million calls have been handled and wait times continue to fall within
acceptable customer service thresholds.
At Open Enrollment events across the country, Medicare has been working closely with its
partners across the nation to provide counseling opportunities for people with Medicare in their home communities. More than a thousand events
with Medicare beneficiaries have been held across the country – and thousands of SHIP counseling sessions have been conducted.
CMS and its partners have shared unbiased drug and health plan information at senior
activity centers, through education-oriented media partnerships and phone banks and with other advocacy partners in unique local venues and
These events also highlight Medicare’s preventive services, including flu and pneumococcal
shots and health screenings.
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