MEDICARE REMINDS BENEFICIARIES TO REVIEW THEIR PRESCRIPTION DRUG COVERAGE AND HEALTH PLAN NEEDS FOR 2009
ANNUAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD ENDS DECEMBER 31ST
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today continued to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to review their current prescription drug and health care coverage before the annual enrollment period ends on Dec. 31 to ensure they are in a plan that will best meet their needs in 2009. Beneficiaries who wish to enroll for the first time or change their coverage for 2009 should do so as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition in the new year.
“Many beneficiaries will see changes in their current plans’ costs and coverage for 2009, so it’s important that people with Medicare take advantage of the enhanced tools CMS has provided to review the coverage and costs of their health or drug plans for next year,” said Kerry Weems, CMS acting administrator.
Medicare’s annual open enrollment period began on Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 31. In addition, for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans only, beneficiaries can make one change in enrollment -- enrolling in a new plan, changing plans or canceling a plan -- between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2009. However, the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period cannot be used to start or stop Medicare drug coverage, or to enroll or disenroll in a Medicare Medical Savings Account plan.
CMS encourages beneficiaries to use online tools available at www.medicare.gov (the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder or Medicare Options Compare for health coverage) to review coverage options for 2009. Beneficiaries can compare cost and coverage information on prescription drug plans and MA plans serving their area by entering their Medicare number, age, health status, local pharmacy, and their current prescriptions.
Beneficiaries without Web access can get the same information provided by the online personalized plan comparison tools by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. The 2009 Medicare & Youhandbook, mailed to beneficiaries in October, includes tips on selecting a plan and an overview of plan options. Beneficiaries already enrolled in an MA plan or prescription drug plan should have received an Annual Notice of Change from their health or drug plan describing any changes in the costs and benefits of their current drug plan from this year to next year.
To take maximum advantage of the assistance available from Medicare, beneficiaries and their family members should follow these tips before calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227, TTY: 1-877-486-2048) during the current open enrollment period for Medicare health and prescription drug plans:
- Write down in advance any questions you want to ask along with information about your current health or prescription drug plan;
- Have your current medications in front of you; and
- Have your Medicare card handy.
Medicare has more than 4,000customer service operators available in six toll-free call centers located across the United States who are prepared to provide help in English and Spanish.
“Beneficiaries should not wait any longer to review their drug coverage,” said Weems. “CMS has worked hard to provide readily accessible information for beneficiaries, their families and caregivers, and we encourage everyone to use this information to achieve peace of mind throughout the next year by making the coverage decision that will best meet their needs.”