The Villages Voice - October 2014

NOTE: Adobe PDF Reader is required in order to view the complete Village Voice. If you do not have Adobe PDF reader installed, please download it at This is a free download.

Click on the image to the left to view this issue.

Medicare Enrollment Period Fast Approaching

by Betty Cunningham

CRITICAL MEDICARE ENROLLMENT PERIOD IS FAST APPROACHING Each year, Medicare beneficiaries have an opportunity to evaluate their Medicare coverage during the Annual Election Period. From Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, beneficiaries may change their Medicare coverage to better meet their needs. They can change all of their coverage or part of it. Those enrolled in original Medicare have nationwide coverage for inpatient (Part A) and outpatient (Part B) services. They may have also elected to enroll in an optional stand-alone prescription drug coverage offered through private insurers. Many beneficiaries also choose to add a Medicare Supplement Plan – Medigap – which provides wrap-around coverage for the costs associated with original Medicare, like co-pays, coinsurance, deductibles and other costs. Medicare also provides an alternative path to receiving your coverage through Medicare health plans (Part C), also known as Medicare Advantage. Advantage plans are offered by private insurers as well, and must cover everything Part A and B covers. Most also include Part D coverage. However, where original Medicare offers nationwide coverage, Part C plan is more restricted by region and networks of providers. In spite of the network restrictions, Medicare Advantage is very attractive to many beneficiaries because many plans have relatively low annual premiums. Many are offered premium-free. Although anyone enrolled in an Advantage plan still pays the Part B premium ($104.90 in 2014), some plans reimburse all or part of this expense. All have annual out-of-pocket limits, which can be high. If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or drug plan, you will receive an “Annual Notice of Change” letter from your insurance company around the end of September describing any changes to the plan benefits, premiums, or service areas. These changes may greatly affect your health or drug expenses for the coming year. During AEP, beneficiaries may keep their current coverage or switch between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. They may also add, drop or switch Medicare prescription drug plans. Any change made during the AEP will be effective Jan. 1st of the following year. If you are confused as to what your options are, come and talk with a SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) volunteer. The services are free, unbiased and confidential. SHINE volunteers are extensively trained and do not sell, endorse or recommend providers or companies. You can get information as to the locations, dates and times of the counseling sites by calling 1-800-963-5337 or going to Betty Cunningham, Area Coordinator for Lake & Sumter Counties and The Villages.