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Medicare & Medicaid News

Seniors to Find Medicare Advantage, Drug Plans Improving as Enrollment Opens

CMS touts better quality and more variety and steady prices as Open Enrollment period begins today, runs through December 7 (Links to more news on Open Enrollment below news report)

CMS Administrator Marilyn TavennerSeniors and people with disabilities are benefiting from improved quality in Medicare health and drug plans at competitive prices.”

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner

Oct. 15, 2014 - For 2015, steadily increasing quality of plans should give seniors confidence that they have an array of quality choices at competitive prices, according to a news release today from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reminding seniors that Medicare Open Enrollment begins today.  CMS encourages people with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage options for 2015.  

“It’s important that seniors should take this time to review their plans to make sure they are the best choice for their situation. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, seniors and people with disabilities are benefiting from improved quality in Medicare health and drug plans at competitive prices,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “With this improved quality, Medicare health and drug plan enrollees will receive improved care and coverage in a timely manner.”  

Medicare Open Enrollment

The 2015 plans are now available at Medicare Plan Finder to review and compare. You can join a plan starting October 15, 2014 and ending December 7, 2014.

What you can do -

>  Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.

>  Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.

>  Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.

>  Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn't offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.

>  Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn't offer drug coverage.

>  Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

>   Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another Medicare drug plan.

>  Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Quality in Medicare Advantage and the Part D Prescription Drug Program continues to improve, CMS says. About 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are currently enrolled in plans with four or more stars for 2015, in contrast to an estimated 17 percent in 2009. And, Medicare Advantage enrollment is projected to be at an all-time high in 2015 with more than 16 million beneficiaries.  

CMS calculates star ratings from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best) based on quality and performance for Medicare health and drug plans to help beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers compare plans. CMS is allowing 5-star Medicare health and prescription drug plans to enroll beneficiaries at any time during the year.  

CMS announced last month that the average Medicare Advantage (MA) premium for 2015 is projected to be $33.90.  Earlier this year, CMS estimated that the average basic Medicare prescription drug premium plan in 2015 was projected to be $32 per month.

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in Medicare Advantage will increase to an all-time high of over 16 million – covering 42 percent of enrollees.

Medicare Advantage premiums will have decreased by 6 percent. The law is also closing the Medicare Part D “donut” hole, with more than 8.3 million people saving over $12 billion on prescription drugs through July 2014.   

Medicare plans coverage options and costs can change each year, and Medicare beneficiaries should evaluate their current coverage and choices, and select the plan that best meets their needs. If people with Medicare are satisfied with their current coverage and feel it will meet their needs for 2015, they to do not need to do anything.

For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2015 Medicare health and drug plans, and view state-by-state fact sheets, visit the Open Enrollment Center.

Open Enrollment will close at the end of the day on December 7.

Resources for Medicare Beneficiaries

People with Medicare, their families, and caregivers can review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings, using many proven resources, including:

  >> Visiting to see plan coverage and costs available in their area, and enroll in a new plan if they decide to make a change.  Open Enrollment information is available in Spanish.

  >> 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.  

  >> Reviewing the 2015 Medicare & You handbook.  It is accessible online at: -- and it has been mailed to the homes of people with Medicare.

  >> Getting one-on-one counseling assistance from the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP

  >> People with Medicare who have limited income and resources may qualify for Extra Help paying for their prescription drug costs.  There is no cost or obligation to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy.  Medicare beneficiaries, family members, or caregivers can apply online or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.  


Related Archive Stories


Happy senior couple looking at computer screenLinks to More Reports on Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare & Medicaid News

Medicare Help to Guide Your Open Enrollment Challenge

Medicare Open Enrollment – the time to make changes in your Medicare services – opens tomorrow and closes on December 7

By Tucker Sutherland, editor,

Oct. 14, 2015 – Medicare Open Enrollment – it begins tomorrow, but for many senior citizens it is not something they eagerly anticipate each year. Not liking change just seems to be something that develops in our DNA

Medicare & You Available Online or for E-Readers as Help for Open Enrollment

Printed books have been mailed but if you have not received it, or prefer electronic data convenience it is online to help seniors with Open Enrollment, which starts Wednesday

Oct. 13, 2015

Medicare 2015 Part B Charges Remain Unchanged, Part A Deductible Up Some

Premiums, copays and deductibles for other Medicare programs for 2015 also announced - Oct. 9, 2014

Nine Tips for the Daunting Task of Signing Up For Medicare

Enrolling in Medicare is a ‘daunting task’ even for a consumer reporter who has written about health-insurance - Oct. 7, 2015

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts October 15, Here is What We Know So Far

Premiums not expected to rise overall in 2015 - some may decline - but some plans have signaled significantly higher rates - Oct. 1, 2014

Most and Least Expensive Medicare Drug, Advantage Plans Identified for 2015

With Medicare Open Enrollment beginning on October 15, free website presents an analysis of advantage and drug plans - September 19, 2014

Medicare Advantage Plans Growing, Small Premium Increases for 2015

Seniors will see wide range of Medicare health, drug plans when enrollment opens October 15, says CMS - September 19, 2014

Confusion about Medicare and Marketplace Cleared up by CMS Q&A

Many seniors will be surprised by this Q&A about Medicare and the Marketplace of the Affordable Care Art - Aug. 26, 2014

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