Improved Benefits and Lower Costs with New Medicare Plans through Affordable Care Act
Open Enrollment for Medicare will begin earlier this year and last seven weeks to allow seniors and people with disabilities more time to compare and find the best plan to meet their individual needs. Open Enrollment will begin Saturday, October 15th and last through December 7th, 2011.
This year, due to the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is able to offer seniors additional benefits, better choices and lower costs, including free preventative services and cheaper prescription drugs. “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,” says Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Medicare is health insurance offered by the federal government for people aged 65 and older, or younger people with certain disabilities. Medicare Part A helps to cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice and home health care. Medicare Part B, or medical insurance, helps cover doctors’ and other health care providers’ services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment and home health care. Part B also offers some preventive services that help maintain health and keep certain illnesses from getting worse.
Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage. These health plan options are run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies and combine services offered under both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Most also include Medicare Part D, which is prescription drug coverage.
The Medicare Plan Finder is an online search tool to help provide estimated cost and coverage information. By entering profile information such as zip code and current insurance status, you can find plans available in your area closely matched to your personal situation. The site also will highlight plans that have achieved an overall quality rating of 5 stars so that people with Medicare can easily find those “gold star” plans.
“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 addition to the Medicare website, an around-the-clock telephone assistance service is also available at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Multilingual users are also supported. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.