The Block Island Times
http://block-island.villagesoup.com/p/1080859

Medicare enrollment is open

Ends Dec. 7
By Stephanie Turaj | Nov 15, 2013

Now is the time to make changes to your medicare healthcare plan.

Open Enrollment for Medicare Advantage (Part C) health and prescription drug (Part D) plans ends on Dec. 7. Any new coverage selected will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. If an individual does not select new changes, their present plan will remain the same. Changes cannot be made after Dec. 7.

“The opportunity to make changes to your plan only comes once a year and now is the time to evaluate what, if any, changes you would like to make,” said Medicare’s Regional Administrator Ray Hurd in a press release. “If you think your current coverage will meet your needs for 2014, you don’t need to change anything.”

Suzanne Carson, the South County coordinator for Rhode Island’s State Health Insurance (SHIP) program was on-island Tuesday, Nov. 13 to answer questions about open enrollment. She said she can help talk with Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers about what options are best for an individual. She is also available to help review the Medicare summary of services that are billed to an individual, to make sure that the proper services are being received.

“Medicare is so personalized,” Carson said, noting that there are 28 different prescription drug plans, she said. She said SHIP is not affiliated with any healthcare provider, so can provide “non-biased” viewpoints to those with questions.

“We want to make sure a person’s current plan is the most cost-effective for them,” she said. “People’s needs always change. It’s always good to get your plan reevaluated.”

In his press release, Hurd said that Medicare is not part of the Health Insurance Marketplace, where individuals can purchase health insurance plans.

“Whether you have Original Medicare (Part A and/or B), a Medicare Advantage health or drug plan, or a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, you have health insurance coverage and are not affected by the Marketplace,” said Hurd. “In fact, it is against the law for someone who knows that you have Medicare to sell you a Marketplace health plan. This is true even if you have only Medicare Part A or Part B.”

Hurd also warned individuals to beware of scammers: “Never give personal information, such as bank or credit card account numbers or your social security number, to anyone who shows up at your home uninvited or someone who makes an unsolicited phone call to sell you Medicare or Marketplace-related products or services. You should report any and all suspicions of fraud by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or 1-800-MEDICARE. To learn more about health care fraud and ways to protect against it, visit stopmedicarefraud.gov.”

According to Hurd, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) also recently announced the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will remain at $104.90 in 2014.

To learn more about Medicare enrollment, coverage, and plan choices, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE. For additional assistance with open enrollment, Carson can be contacted at (401) 789-3016.

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