The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging all Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of the annual Open Enrollment period to make sure they have the best coverage available to meet their health care needs in 2011.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period this year begins on November 15th and runs through December 31st. During the Open Enrollment period, current or newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries, including people with Original Medicare, can review current health and prescription drug coverage, compare health and drug plan options available in their area, and choose coverage that best meet their needs.
"The Affordable Care Act will make Medicare stronger and more sustainable. There will be new benefits available to nearly every person with Medicare starting in January 2011, including free annual wellness visits and free recommended preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies. Seniors who fall into the donut hole in 2011 will be eligible for a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs. These new benefits make this year's Medicare Open Enrollment Period especially important," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Every year, the Medicare Open Enrollment Period gives Medicare beneficiaries a chance to evaluate their current plans and see what other options might be out there that serve their needs, especially if their health status has changed. Those enrolled in Medicare can think of the Open Enrollment Period as a yearly coverage "check-up." It is important for people with Medicare to look closely at their plan, look at the options available to them, consider their health status, and find what works for them."
"There's never been a better time for Medicare beneficiaries to check out their Medicare coverage," said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D. "With better plan choices available for 2011, Medicare beneficiaries can think of Open Enrollment as their yearly coverage 'check-up'."
"During Open Enrollment, AoA's national network of community-based organizations will work with seniors, individuals with disabilities and their caregivers across the country to help them understand the new benefits available under the Affordable Care
Act," said Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging. "In addition, we urge seniors to protect themselves from potential fraud and identity theft. We know there are people who use this time to scam seniors and rip off Medicare. Seniors should protect their Medicare number the same way they do their Social Security number or credit cards."
Resources for Medicare Beneficiaries
People with Medicare, their families and other trusted representatives can review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings, using many proven resources, including:
. Visiting www.medicare.gov, where they can get a personalized comparison of costs and coverage of the plans available in their area. The popular Medicare Plan Finder and Medicare Options Compare tools have been enhanced for an efficient review of plan choices. Multilingual Open Enrollment information and counseling is available.
. Calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
. Reviewing the 2011 Medicare &You handbook. It is also accessible at www.medicare gov and has been mailed to the homes of people with Medicare benefits.
. Getting one-on-one counseling assistance from the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Local SHIP contact information can be found:
o At http://www.medicare.gov/contacts/organization-search-criteria.aspx or
o On the back of the 2011 Medicare &You handbook or;
o By calling Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY, 1-877-486-2048)
o Through a listing of national stand-alone prescription drug plans and state specific fact sheets can be found at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/openenrollment.asp
Medicare beneficiaries who cannot meet the costs of prescription drugs may be eligible for additional resources. Based on eligibility for "extra help," some people Medicare will pay no more than $2.50 for each generic drug and no more than $6.30 for each name brand drug. The program, called Medicare's Limited Income Newly Eligible Transition (NET) Program, can also help pay for premiums and other out-of-pocket costs.
There is no cost to apply for this extra help. Medicare beneficiaries, family members, trusted counselors or caregivers can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.
Protecting Against Fraud and Identity Theft
The new health care law also provides better tools to help fight waste, fraud and abuse to help protect Medicare. CMS offers tips to help beneficiaries protect themselves against fraud and identity theft during the Open Enrollment period. Medicare recommends thatpeople treat their Medicare number as they do their social security number and credit card information.
Beneficiaries should not give personal information to anyone arriving to their home uninvited or making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services. Beneficiaries who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft should contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY, 1-877-486-2048). More information is available at www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
More information is available at www.healthcare.gov, a new web portal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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