Everyone with Medicare should review their choices during the Fall Open Enrollment Period, according to the Medicare Rights Center, a national, nonprofit consumer service organization. Even people who are currently happy with their plan should do so, because plans make changes to their benefit packages every year.
The Fall Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15 through December 7. During this time, people with Medicare can make changes to their health and drug coverage options without restriction. They have the right to make as many changes as they need.
“This open enrollment season is especially important in light of today’s news that there will be no Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) for next year,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “People with Medicare should take the time to evaluate their plan choices and select the plan that best meets their health and financial needs.”
While there will be no COLA, the Part B premium is expected to increase significantly for some people with Medicare, including new enrollees, individuals not collecting Social Security benefits, and beneficiaries already paying higher premiums. State Medicaid programs will also pick up these higher premium costs for people with both Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, the Part B deductible is expected to increase to $223 for all beneficiaries, most significantly affecting those who lack adequate supplemental coverage.
Baker added, “We urge Congress to act quickly to halt expected increases in Part B costs. Older adults and people with disabilities cannot shoulder these unprecedented increases, especially those living on low and fixed incomes. Half of all people with Medicare are living on annual incomes of $24,150 or less.”
To date, almost 100,000 people have signed a petition sponsored by the Medicare Rights Center and allied partners urging Congress to act swiftly to bring down these unprecedented increases.
Besides weighing the cost of coverage, Medicare beneficiaries need to be aware of other possible changes to their current plan, including to provider and pharmacy networks or other coverage rules. People with Medicare should refer to their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC), which they should have received on or before September 30, 2015 which details any such changes. While reviewing their options, it is important for people with Medicare to contact the plan to confirm information about costs and coverage, and once beneficiaries select a plan, they can enroll by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
For more information about increases in Part B premiums and the hold harmless provision, visit Medicare Interactive.
For more detailed information about the Fall Open Enrollment Period, visit: http://www.medicarerights.org/pdf/fall-open-enrollment-resource-for-journalists.pdf.