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Posted on October 06, 2016
Fall is officially here, And that means, changing leaves, pumpkin everything, and of course, health insurance. The first official event of the health insurance enrollment season is fast approaching: Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP). For those aged 65 and older, this is the only time to make changes to your plan elections outside of a qualifying special enrollment event. The Medicare AEP opens October 15th and runs through December 7th.
What is Medicare?
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that provides coverage for American’s aged 65 and older. Recipients are automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B coverage on the first day of the month they turn 65. Additional Medicare plans and supplements are available to help cover or close the gaps in Original Medicare.
The Annual Election Period is October 15-December 7 for coverage beginning January, 2017. This is the time recipients should review their current plan and future plan options. There are a few changes Medicare recipients should be aware of, including:
- Prescription coverage
- Part B premium increase (for those who did not see an increase in 2016)
- Continued changes & updates to Medicare Advantage plans
Plan providers should send beneficiaries information about their plan and possible changes. It’s important to review these documents to know about any increasing co-pays, changes to drug formularies, deductibles and premiums. Reviewing your plan and available options can help you make adjustments to reflect your current health coverage needs.
The biggest item you should review annually according to Individual Health Risk Advisor, Johanna Rundlett? Your medications. Part D or prescription drug plans change from year to year. Reviewing your medications is key in making sure you have adequate coverage for the upcoming year.
Part D “Donut Hole” Is Shrinking in 2017
One of the big changes to 2017 Medicare coverage is the Part D or Prescription drug plan “donut hole.” In 2016, the gap in coverage occurred once the $3,310 threshold in medication expenses was reached. In 2017, the coverage limit is $3,700 and ends once they have spent $4,950. While in the hole, plan beneficiaries will pay 40% of the cost for brand name drugs and 51% of the cost of generic drugs (down from 45% and 58% respectively in 2016). The Part D donut hole is steadily closing, and should be fully closed by 2020 (MedicareResources.org May 3, 2016).
For questions on Medicare coverage and 2017 plan options, contact our office at (319) 887-3700.
Additional Medicare Resources:
- Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) www.cms.gov
- The Official Government Site for Medicare www.medicare.gov
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services & Department of Justice – Stop Medicare Fraud www.stopmedicarefraud.gov