The Medicare open enrollment period began Oct. 15, 2012, and runs through Dec. 7, 2012. Changes made during open enrollment become effective January 1, 2013. If your health-care needs changed during the past year, the open enrollment period provides you with an opportunity to switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans to better suit your needs.
During this period you can:
You should begin by evaluating your current plan. You may want to consider your satisfaction with the coverage, the level of care you're receiving, the premium costs, and out-of-pocket expenses. Also consider any changes to your health, and determine if your current plan will cover needed treatments. You could find switching to a different Medicare plan may work better for your needs or budget.
In 2013, Medicare Part B will add coverage for preventive services and treatments with no co-payment or deductible required. Some of these preventive services include screening for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, bone mass measurements, and certain cancers. Part B will also cover pap tests and pelvic exams, mammograms, and vaccines for flu and pneumonia.
Also in 2013, if you reach the coverage gap in your Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), you’ll pay only 47.5% of the cost for covered brand-name drugs and 79% of the cost for generic drugs. The coverage gap will be after you and your drug plan have spent $2,970.
Comparing Medicare plans can be complicated. You may consider talking to a financial adviser, calling 1-800-MEDICARE, or by visiting the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov.
William G. Lako, Jr., CFP®, is a principal at Henssler Financial, and a co-host on Atlanta's longest running, most respected financial talk radio show "Money Talks" airing Sundays at 10 a.m. on Talk 920 AM, WGKA.