Resources available to help with Medicare enrollment

Medicare enrollment opened Monday. It runs until Dec. 7. Oklahomans have a few websites they can visit and phone numbers they can call for help.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: October 18, 2012

Medicare recipients, you have about 50 days left to do some homework and figure out which coverage plan works best for you.

Bob Moos, spokesman for the southwest regional office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said now is the time for Medicare recipients and soon-to-be recipients to research, find the best fit and update their coverage or enroll in a plan.

“It's really the best time of the year for people to evaluate their health and drug coverage to see what works best for them,” Moos said. “Even if people are satisfied with their coverage, it benefits them and serves them well to check up on their coverage.”

Medicare is health insurance for people 65 or older, people under 65 with certain disabilities and people of any age with end-stage renal disease, permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.

About 626,000 Oklahoma residents are entitled to receive Medicare, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's state health data report. This represents about 17 percent of the state's population.

Moos said any changes that people make to their coverage plans will take effect Jan. 1.

“Shopping around can indeed save you money and improve your coverage, too,” Moos said. “If you're satisfied with what you've got, it still helps to do a little homework over the next seven weeks.”

Medicare recipients have two main ways to get Medicare coverage — the original fee-for-service Medicare program or a private Medicare Advantage Plan.

The average monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans will increase $1.47 to $32.59, while the average monthly premiums for basic drug plans will be about $30, Moos said.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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TO GET HELP

Residents who would like to talk to person about their plans can call the Medicare's toll-free help line at (800) 633-4227. During enrollment season, hundreds more operators are hired to help reduce wait times, Bob Moos said.

Residents can also call the Oklahoma Insurance Department, which offers benefits counseling through the state's health insurance assistance program. That number is (800) 763-2828.

Also, Medicare recipients should have received a “Medicare & You 2013 Handbook” in the mail. You can download a digital version of the handbook online to read on your e-Reader at www.medicare.gov/publications.

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