Medicare Beneficiaries Should Make Informed Healthcare Decisions Before Enrolling
The open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is between January 1 and March 31, 2008. MA plans are health plan options that are approved by Medicare and run by private companies. They are part of the Medicare program and are sometimes called "Part C." Medicare beneficiaries can make one change in enrollment during this period. They can enroll in a new plan, change plans or cancel a plan, but they cannot join or drop Medicare drug coverage during this time. Although legitimate MA plans can be of benefit to some, there is the potential for fraud during open enrollment. The Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services (DAS) is encouraging Georgians to use caution, make informed healthcare decisions, and use the resources of DAS GeorgiaCares SMP, which provides community education, counseling and referrals relating to Medicare and Medicaid error, fraud and abuse. To report a MA complaint, call GeorgiaCares SMP at 1-800-669-8387.
"We encourage beneficiaries to be cautious when approached about changing healthcare plans because enrollment in a MA plan may require changing doctors, specialists or hospitals. Beneficiaries should notify GeorgiaCares of any complaints," said Maria Greene, Director of DAS.
Beneficiaries should be aware that Medicare representatives do not go door-to-door and insurance agents cannot solicit business without making an appointment. They should request all information be sent to them in writing to review before making a final decision to enroll in a MA or other healthcare plan. If beneficiaries choose to enroll in a MA plan, they should be aware that they have the same rights and protections offered by Medicare. They will receive the same services as original Medicare; may receive extra benefits in addition to what original Medicare covers, which may include dental, hearing and vision care; will still pay the Medicare Part B premium, but directly to the MA plan; are responsible for any premium the MA plan may charge; and may be responsible for other costs associated with receiving healthcare services.