The Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program statewide service offers free counseling for the 2015 Medicare Plan changes and new enrollments.

October 15th starts the Medicare Open Enrollment period for 2015. Now is the time to change plan benefits, provider networks, drug formularies and monthly premiums.

During the Medicare Open Enrollment period, October 15th to December 7th, all Medicare beneficiaries have the option to change their plans for 2015. This includes anyone with Original Medicare, a Medicare Advantage Health Plan or a Part D prescription drug plan.

Anyone having these plans and wants to change to a different plan, the Medicare Open Enrollment period is the one time each year to make a new selection.

Do not miss the Open Enrollment deadline!

To change plans, enrollment starts October 15th and ends December 7th, the effective date for the new plan is January 1, 2015. However, first-time enrollees, those people turning 65 before or during the annual enrollment period, will need to select a plan covering them from the date of enrollment to the end of 2014 as well as a plan that begins January 1, 2015.

Jo Murphy, the Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Program (MMAP) executive director says, “It’s important to remember that insurers can change: plan benefits, provider networks, drug formularies and monthly premiums. Do not assume current plans cover the same things it did last year or that the costs are the same.”

Considerations to make when changing plans: 1)present health-care status and 2)prescription needs. This is the time to compare current plans with 2015 plans.

Over the next month, mail received that contains important notices from current plans, Medicare or Social Security notices about changes to coverage or any “Extra Help” supplements being received for prescription drugs. Save all of the letters received and have them on hand as reference material when reviewing coverage for the 2015 year.

Carefully review the “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) and “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) documents that current insurers send around the end of September.

These notices describe plan changes for the coming year including changes in monthly premium costs, annual deductibles, and co-pays or co-insurance, and all of the out-of-pocket costs for drugs.

The people with a Medicare Advantage plan, ** confirm that the doctor or other health care providers still participate in the plan. Take time to carefully review these details and make sure the current plan continues to meet the needs. Reading and understanding this information now helps to avoid costly surprises later.

By now, notifications should have been sent as to whether current plans will be available in 2015. Plans are required to send their current members a letter by October 2nd notifying them that their current coverage will end December 31, 2014. If that is the case, it is vitally important to compare available 2015 plans and consider the type of Medicare coverage that will be the best fit.

Advertising literature from insurance companies that offer Medicare health and drug plans will arrive in the mailbox. Just remember to be smart about protecting personal information and identity. Insurance agents cannot call or go door to door without an invitation from.

To make changes to current plans, go to the Medicare Plan Finder at http://www.Medicare.gov. The Plan Finder allows the entry of current drugs and preferred pharmacies. The Plan Finder provides information to compare costs and plan benefits. With this information, the right decision can be made. Enroll in your plan at the Medicare website beginning October 15th.

Do you need help?
Deciding between Medicare Advantage plans and Original Medicare may seem daunting.

Questions and assistance needed? The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) can help. Call 1-800-803-7174. MMAP is a free, unbiased, and confidential counseling service.

MMAP receives funds from the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging and the Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Community Living. MMAP does not receive funding from nor is it affiliated with any insurance companies.

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