Medicare Open Enrollment Period
Tough economic times have seen rising health care costs place a strain on our seniors, who often live on fixed incomes. In an effort to provide our aging population with peace of mind, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes provisions aimed at improving Medicare by lowering prescription drug costs and eliminating barriers to coverage.
Senior citizens are our parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends. As a member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, I worked hard on behalf of Colorado's seniors to ensure the ACA would work for them, and will continue to do so in the years ahead. Oct. 15 marked the beginning of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, allowing those who qualify for Medicare the option to change their health care coverage and benefits through Dec. 7, 2012.
The Open Enrollment Period provides an opportunity for Colorado senior citizens to choose from over 20 Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) covered under Medicare Part D. All senior citizens can currently choose between standard Medicare coverage or a private Medicare Advantage Plan. It is crucial to understand the components of your current plan so you can decide which one best suits you, your family and your lifestyle. Before you make any changes to your existing plan, there are some questions you should ask yourself, such as:
- Am I satisfied with my current coverage?
- Does my current or future plan cover all of the services I need?
- Do I have or am I eligible for other types of prescription drug coverage? What are my costs? How much am I paying for my premiums, deductibles, etc.? Are there limits on my out-of-pocket expenses?
- Will my doctors or health providers accept the new coverage? Do I need to receive health care from a network of hospitals?
- Do I need to join a Medicare drug plan? What are the potential costs, penalties or rules associated Is the health care plan convenient for me and my lifestyle?
- Where am I covered? Am I covered in other states or outside of the United States?
No matter what your health needs are the ACA is improving care for seniors, for example the bill will close the Part D coverage gap - also known as the donut hole - by 2020. In 2013, all beneficiaries who reach the donut hole will pay less than the full price of their drug costs thanks to improvements made by the bill. Importantly, the ACA also extends the solvency of Medicare by over a decade.
I urge you to explore your health care options, even if your health has not changed in the past year. The Open Enrollment Period is designed to ensure you have the most appropriate health care for your situation and feel comfortable with your coverage plan for the upcoming year.
For more information on Medicare and the Open Enrollment Period, visit www.medicare.gov.
To learn more about senior health care and programs offered here in Colorado, visit www.colorado.gov.