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Medicare annual open enrollment period to begin

From the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), part of the State of Iowa Insurance Division –

We’re heading into a very important time of year for people on Medicare—the annual open enrollment period.  The dates for the open enrollment are October 15-December 7.  This is the time when Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans announce their changes for the next year and Iowans on Medicare can decide what plans they want for 2013.  Individuals can change to a different plan, enroll in a plan or drop coverage.  Choices made during the open enrollment will go into effect January 1, 2013.

Kris Gross from the state of Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).  says, “We’re asking everyone to remind family, friends and neighbors about these important dates.  We don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to make their choice of plans for 2013.”  Plans can change their coverage and costs from year to year, so comparing plans during the open enrollment is critical.

The “Annual Notice of Change”, sent out by plans to explain formulary (drugs covered), benefits and cost changes for 2013 is due in mailboxes September 30.  “Notices of Creditable Coverage” are also due September 30.  This is a notice from employer/union and other group health plans which tell Medicare eligible enrollees if their drug coverage will be “as good as or better than Medicare’s coverage” in 2013.

The 2013 Medicare drug plans will be available on the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov, on October 1.  Plans not renewing their contract with Medicare for 2013 must notify their members by October 2.

Two other important changes are coming to Part D next year.  The “donut hole” or “coverage gap” will continue to close.  In 2013 you will pay 47.5% for brand name drugs covered by the plan, and your cost for generic drugs will be reduced from 86% to 79%.  Each year these costs will drop until the donut hole is closed.

If you have questions about Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans contact SHIIP, a free, confidential service of the state of Iowa. You can call 1-800-351-4664 (TTY1-800-735-2942), go to www.therightcalliowa.gov or e-mail shiip@iid.iowa.gov.

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