2008-12-11 / News

Time to review Medicare plans

Rhode Island seniors should review and compare their current Medicare plans to ensure they have the best coverage to meet their needs. The annual open enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31, gives beneficiaries the opportunity to enroll in or make changes to their existing coverage.

"Each year, Medicare plans change, as do the needs of each person with Medicare," said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. "CMS wants to ensure that we give beneficiaries the tools to make the decision that best suits their specific needs. It is important for people with Medicare to assess their own healthcare needs and make use of the many CMS resources available to them."

Taking advantage of the annual enrollment period is more important than ever before. Millions of people with Medicare across the country will see signifi cant changes in their drug plan premiums and coverage.

CMS is encouraging people with Medicare to review how their plans are changing and what other options are available to them so they can determine which plan best meets their needs. There are four ways to review and compare plans:

Visit www.medicare.gov to use the Planfinder tool. Seniors can compare costs, coverage and more, and also get an estimate of their potential out-of-pocket costs for the year.

Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1- 800-633-4227, TTY 1-877-486- 2048). 24-hour help is available from trained Medicare representatives.

See the listing of plans in the Medicare & You handbook. All people with Medicare receive a copy of the handbook by mail and can review this along with the information sent to them by their current plan.

Talk with local Medicare experts at their State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Representatives are available to answer beneficiary questions about their coverage options weekdays by calling 1-800-552-3402

In addition to the assistance offered to beneficiaries at open enrollment, Medicare has a Low Income Subsidy (LIS) program to help those living on low or fixed incomes. Those who qualify may save 75 percent or more on their prescription drug costs. In fact, most will get 95 percent of their costs paid by Medicare. People with Medicare can apply for extra help through their local Social Security office by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov, or calling 1-800-772-1213.

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