Your Weekly Medicare
Consumer Advocacy Update
Don't Cut Medicare Benefits–Tackle Drug Prices
December 6, 2012
Volume 3, Issue 46
The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans ends on December 7. However, Hurricane Sandy affected many parts of the Northeast, leaving many people with Medicare unable to choose on a new plan during this time. For that reason, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is allowing those affected by Hurricane Sandy to enroll into stand-alone Part D plans or Medicare Advantage plans outside of the Fall Open Enrollment Period.
You don't need to prove that you live in an area affected by Sandy to be eligible for the extended enrollment period. The extension also applies to people who don’t live in the affected area but rely on help making health care decisions from friends or family members who live in the affected areas.
There is no time limit after Fall Open Enrollment has ended for people to enroll into a new plan using the extended Open Enrollment Period.
If you were affected by Hurricane Sandy and need extra time to enroll in a drug or health plan after December 7, you should call 800-MEDICARE anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your coverage should begin on the first of the month after you enroll into the plan. This means that if you call 800-MEDICARE to enroll into a new plan before December 31, 2012, your plan coverage will begin on January 1, 2013.
This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that, to date, 5.8 million people with Medicare have saved $5.1 billion on prescription drugs thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA enacted several enhancements to Medicare, most notably the gradual closing the Part D prescription drug coverage gap, or doughnut hole, for beneficiaries. Almost 2.8 million older adults and people with disabilities in the doughnut hole have saved an average of $677 in the first 10 months of 2012 alone.
In 2013, the ACA will save beneficiaries more on their prescription drugs, increasing the discounts to 53 percent of the cost of brand name drugs and 21 percent of the cost of generic drugs. These discounts will increase gradually until the doughnut hole is completely closed in 2020.