Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plan annual enrollment period is Oct. 15-Dec. 7
Oregonians with Medicare need to review their plan options and make any annual benefit changes from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. The time frame ensures there is enough time to process any changes so that coverage begins without interruption on Jan. 1, 2013.
The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) Program, a federally funded program available to help Oregon’s more than 630,000 Medicare beneficiaries, has counselors available statewide at 1-800-722-4134, or locally at 541-857-7780, to provide free, unbiased one-on-one assistance during annual enrollment.
This month, seniors will receive their “Annual Notice of Change” letter from their insurance company. The letter will outline any changes to their benefits or costs in 2013, including whether their current plan will be available.
“It is important that people with Medicare watch the mail this month for important mailings from their current plan. This is the annual opportunity to compare the cost and coverage their current Medicare Advantage plan and prescription drug plan to other plans and decide if they want to switch plans,” said Cristy Harms, Jackson County SHIBA Coordinator. “SHIBA counselors can save beneficiaries hundreds of dollars a year by completing a detailed plan comparison using the online plan finder on Medicare.gov.”
If you decide to look at new plans, SHIBA suggests you do the following:
Find your insurance cards: You may need your red, white, and blue Medicare card to review benefit details or enroll in a new plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, you may also need that card.
Update your list of prescription drugs: Check with your doctor to make sure you understand each prescription. Is a generic available? Can you eliminate any unneeded medications? Based on your list, do you have the right plan for you?
Use the Medicare.gov plan finder: The plan finder uses your prescription list to compare prescription drug and Medicare Advantage health plans in your area. Not all companies cover the same drugs so it’s important to have a complete list of your medications and dosages when using this tool.
Contact your doctor, hospital, and pharmacy before making changes: Not all health and drug plans contract or work with the same providers. If you switch plans, make sure you understand which providers you can see for the best price.
Apply for help with drug costs: If you have limited income and assets, you may qualify for extra help with prescription drug costs. SHIBA counselors can help you apply for this benefit through Social Security.
More information and assistance SHIBA: To meet with a counselor, contact the toll-free SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-722-4134. You will be asked to enter your ZIP code to be connected to a program in your area. Visit www.oregonshiba.org to view a calendar of available one-on-one counseling appointments or information events available in your county or to find a copy of the 2013 Oregon Guide to Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Prescription Drug Plans. The guide for 2013 will be available online in early October. You may also call the local office in Medford at 541-857-7780 to schedule an appointment with a volunteer. Volunteers are also available in Ashland and Rogue River.
Medicare: Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you understand your coverage options and enroll in a plan.