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.
Residents enrolled in the original fee-for-service Medicare program can enroll in one of the 30 prescription drug plans offered in Oklahoma. The monthly premiums range from $15 to $118.60. Most of the plans are between $30 and $50.
“My best advice is, if you look at that list, you need to look beyond the premiums,” Moos said.
Residents can visit Medicare's website at www.medicare.gov to access several resources to help choose the right plan. One of the resources, “Medicare Plan Finder,” helps recipients find which plan might serve them best.
Moos said it's important to look at each plan's deductible. Using the plan finder on Medicare's website can help you with making that decision, he said. To help you identify the best and worst plans, the plan finder also provides star ratings for each plan, he said.
To use the tool, recipients will need to enter in information about each of their prescriptions, including the dosage, so it's helpful to have prescription bottles nearby, Moos said.
“If that seems a little overwhelming for someone, there is help out there,” Moos said.
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