8 Things You Should Know About Medicare Enrollment

1. Medicare benefits are unchanged under Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. The Medicare Open Enrollment period began October 15 and runs through December 7. The process has NOT changed this year.

2. Read this again: Medicare isn’t part of the marketplace. The Marketplace program is for people age 64 or younger. The Medicare health insurance program remains specifically for people 65 or older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease.

3. Unlike the complications associated with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchanges, there are no hitches to the re-enrollment process. Visit the Medicare Plan finder at Medicare.gov. You will choose from the original Medicare plan which includes Part A (hospital coverage) and/or Part B (Medical Insurance).

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4. If you decide to go with a Medicare Advantage plan like an HMO or PPO, the coverage will include both Part A and Part B. In most of these plans, you will need to use plan doctors, hospitals and other providers or risk paying more or all costs for care outside the plan. You may be responsible for a co-payment for any services in addition to the monthly premium.

5. For both traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, you will also decide if you want drug coverage (Part D). If you want drug coverage, you will need to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, run by private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans may provide drug coverage through the plan.

6. There are only minor changes in Medicare D and Medicare Advantage plans in 2014. The “doughnut hole” is smaller. You will get a 52.5% discount on brand-name drugs in the doughnut hole; the federal subsidy for generic drugs rises from 21% to 28% in 2014. Premiums for Part D plans are expected to remain the same.

7. This year, Medicare has improved coverage with some additional covered services. Medicare now covers screening and counseling services for these as well as other conditions: Depression, alcohol misuse, cardiovascular disease, obesity.

8. Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans do not cover costs of custodial care. Custodial care includes non-skilled personal care like help with bathing, dressing, eating, getting into and out of a bed or chair, moving around, and using the bathroom. Medicare Medicare Advantage also do not cover dental and eye care, dentures, hearing aides, or cosmetic surgery.

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