Enrollment for Medicare Advantage, or Prescription Drug
15, ends December 7, 2012
This is the
moment when you must navigate the maze of choices
regarding aspects of your Medicare coverage for 2013.
Your choices are: (1) Traditional Medicare with
perhaps an added Medigap policy for costs not
covered by Medicare. (2) A private insurance plan hired
by Medicare to provide your care, called Medicare
Advantage. (3) A prescription drug private insurance
policy called Part D. Some Medicare Advantage
plans also provide Part D prescription drugs.
I would not
begin to tell you these choices are clear, or easy to
make, with certainty that you have made your best
choices for 2013. You have been made a gambler, trying
to guess what the coming year will bring for your
health. What hospitalization are you likely to
experience? What drugs might you need? Different choices
that you make now provide different payouts next year.
But choices must be made, so be careful. Find help if
In 2012, for the
year 2013, open season for enrolling in Medicare
Advantage, or Part D prescription plans is October 15
through December 7, 2012.
open enrollment allows people on Medicare to make a
single plan election into, or out of a Medicare
Advantage Plan if you wish to go back to traditional
Medicare. Beneficiaries should carefully evaluate their
plan options, not be pressured into making a quick
decision and be on the look out for misleading sales
pitches and promises that seem too good to be true.
If you already
have a Medicare Advantage policy, or a Part D policy,
read the 2013 terms very carefully, since companies
change coverage or drugs covered every year.
For a more
detailed explanation of the process of deciding, read:
Why You Must Review Your Medicare Advantage or Your Part
D, Plan Today
Advantage Plans are health plan options that are
part of the Medicare
program. They are run by private insurance companies.If
you join one of these plans, you generally get all your
Medicare-covered health care through that plan. This
coverage can include prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Advantage Plans include:
Medicare Health Maintenance Organization (HMOs)
Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
Medicare Special Needs Plans
Advantage Plans include a prescription drug benefit.
When you join a
Medicare Advantage Plan, you use the health insurance
card that you get from the plan for your health care. In
most of these plans, generally there are extra benefits
and lower co-payments than in the Original Medicare
Plan. However, you may have
to see doctors that belong to the plan or go to certain
hospitals to get services.
To join a
Medicare Advantage Plan, you must have Medicare Part A
and Part B. You will have to pay your monthly Medicare
Part B premium to Medicare. In addition, you might have
to pay a monthly premium to your Medicare Advantage Plan
for the extra benefits that they offer. The
government pays the lion's share of the cost of any
Medicare Advantage program, something around $800 to
$1,000 per month for every Senior enrollee. But one
must make a choice of any plan very carefully. You may
need to seek out the assistance of a state
representative to help you sift through the maze.
which Medicare Advantage insurers, or Part D
prescription drug insurers offer policies in your
area, go to
www.medicare.gov . At that site, you can compare
plans with each other, and with traditional Medicare.
If you select traditional Medicare, you will also be
able to compare Medigap policies that cover some
or most of the costs not covered by Medicare.