The annual enrollment period for Medicare — the time each year when beneficiaries can make changes to Part D and Medicare Advantage plans — began last week and will continue through Friday, Dec. 7.
Plans can change their coverage and costs from year to year, so comparing plans during the open enrollment is critical. Plans not renewing their contract with Medicare for 2013 were to have notified their members by Oct. 2.
Two other important changes are coming to Part D next year. The “donut hole” or “coverage gap” will continue to close. In 2013 you will pay 47.5 percent for brand-name drugs covered by the plan, and your cost for generic drugs will be reduced from 86 percent to 79 percent. Each year these costs will drop until the donut hole is closed.
The Senior Health Insurance Information Program, operated locally from an office at Skiff Medical Center in Newton, is offering to help with the decision-making process.
“We’re asking everyone to remind family, friends and neighbors about these important dates,” SHIIP spokeswoman Kris Gross said. “We don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to make their choice of plans for 2013.”
SHIIP was created in 1990 to provide free informational materials as well as one-on-one assistance with questions and problems related to Medicare benefits, supplement insurance, insurance claims and other related issues. SHIIP does not recommend insurance companies, plans or agents; the volunteers answer questions and provide impartial information to help Iowans on Medicare make well-informed decisions.
For more information, SHIIP provides a toll-free phone service at 1-800-351-4664, and a website, www.therightcalliowa.gov.