Medicare Open Enrollment Ends Dec. 31

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Open enrollment for Medicare continues only until Dec. 31. During open enrollment, people in Medicare have the option to add, drop or change prescription drug and health care plans for 2010. 

“Now is the time to compare current Medicare drug and health plans with others that are available and choose the one that best fits your needs,” said AARP Arizona State Director David Mitchell.

Each year, AARP encourages its members and everyone in Medicare to carefully consider their options for the coming year and suggests that seniors pay particular attention to changes in the cost of Part D drug coverage.  

A new AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) analysis of 2010 Medicare Part D prescription drug plans finds a majority of the most popular national plans have increased premiums and cost-sharing for next year.

The report finds that more plans will require copayments of close to $100 for some brand name drugs. Other plans will require enrollees to pay a percentage of their drugs’ prices — instead of fixed copayments — for all medicines except generics. One popular national plan will charge different amounts depending on which pharmacies its customers use.

“Rising prescription drug costs push premiums and cost-sharing higher, even seniors who are happy with their current coverage should look for any changes to their 2010 plan,” Mitchell added.

“Now is the time to consider coverage options and find a plan that best fits your needs and budget, in addition to talking with your doctor about lower-cost medicines that may be right for you.”

AARP encourages older Americans shopping for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage to use the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov.

This online tool finds plans based on a person’s location and current medications. After receiving a list of available plans, AARP recommends considering the “Four C’s”:

Costs, including the monthly premium, the annual deductible and cost-sharing.

Coverage for as many of your drugs as possible, which could save a person from paying more out of pocket.

Convenience of participating pharmacy locations or access to mail-order pharmacies.

Customer Service. Check Medicare.gov, which includes quality ratings for plans. Ask your doctors, pharmacist and friends about their experiences.

The open enrollment period is also an opportunity for people in Medicare to shop for Medicare Advantage plans, which generally combine traditional Medicare benefits with prescription drug coverage and some supplemental benefits.

People in Medicare can compare Medicare Advantage plans head-to-head by using the health plan finder at www.medicare.gov.

Seniors who need help finding a prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plan can also contact Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.

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