The Medicare Open Enrollment Period — which begins today Monday, October 15 – has been expanded to last seven weeks and will end on December 7. This will give seniors and people with disabilities more time to compare and find the best plan that meets their unique needs. Open enrollment is seniors’ chance to review their Medicare choices and pick the plan that works for them but if they decide that they’re happy sticking with the coverage they have now, they don’t need to do anything else.
“Fall can be an extremely busy time of year, the kids are getting settled into a new a new school year, the yard and the house need to be made ready for winter and of course we need to keep up with the Packers on Sundays,” said Doug Hill, State Director for Know Your Care Wisconsin. “With everything we have going on, it’s so easy to forget another activity that should be on all our fall checklists: helping family members with the Medicare Open Enrollment period.”
If Medicare beneficiaries and their families need assistance in helping to choose a plan or deciding to stay on a plan they can utilize two great resources. The first is the Medicare Plan Finder, available at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan
The second resource is an “Elder Benefits Specialist.” Each county in Wisconsin has at least one of these specialists. These individuals can help Medicare beneficiaries learn what plans and what options are available to them. They cannot advise you on what plan to choose, but they will help you gather information to make a more informed decision about which plan is best for you. To make an appointment with your county’s elder benefits specialist you can contact your county’s Commission on Aging and Disability Resource Center.
A full listing of Wisconsin’s Aging and Disability Resource Centers can be found at this directory: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aging/EBS/benspecs.htm
Additionally, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs in the Part D “donut hole” coverage gap will continue to increase until 2020, when the donut hole will be closed. This year, people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 14 percent coverage of generic drugs in the donut hole. In 2013, Medicare Part D’s coverage of brand name drugs will begin to increase, so people with Medicare will receive approximately 53 percent off the cost of brand name drugs, and coverage for 21 percent of the cost of generic drugs, in the donut hole.
“With more benefits, better choices and lower costs, Know Your Care Wisconsin encourages people with Medicare and their families to begin reviewing their drug and health plan coverage options for 2013,” Hill added.