Medicare Part D Annual Election Period Changing
All members of Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plans and Medicare Health Plans may change their coverage each year during the annual election period.
Beginning this year, the AEP will now be from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. All changes made during this time will be effective Jan. 1, 2012.
"It is imperative to remember that Medicare beneficiaries will no longer have until the end of the year to make changes, so you need to plan now," says a spokesman.
Medicare prescription coverage may be obtained in a stand-alone Part D plan or as part of a Medicare health plan. Information on the Part D plans and Medicare Health Plans to be offered in North Carolina for 2012 should be available in early October at www.medicare.gov or from the Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) at www.ncshiip.com.
A beneficiary should not assume that a plan that meets their needs in 2011 will provide the same coverage in 2012 or that it is the best plan for them in 2012. Part D plans contract on a yearly basis with the Medicare program. This allows for changes with formulary lists (the prescription medications covered by the plan), restriction and limitation requirements, monthly premium payments, and pharmacy co-payments for any medication each year. SHIIP encourages each Part D participant to compare the coverage offered by their current plan with the coverage that will be offered by all plans available in 2012.
Medicare recipients who have not previously enrolled in a Part D plan are allowed to do so during this period, although they might see a late enrollment premium penalty if other creditable coverage did not exist. Further, Medicare beneficiaries with low incomes and limited resources may be eligible for an Extra Help/Low Income Subsidy (LIS) program that reduces or eliminates the monthly premium and annual deductible and reduces prescription co-payments. SHIIP can help determine eligibility and can assist with the application process at any time during the year.
SHIIP is a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance and can assist anyone with questions about Medicare Part D coverage information and enrollment. Trained SHIIP counselors are available for one-on-one counseling appointments in all 100 North Carolina counties. For more information, contact SHIIP at (800) 443-9354 or visit www.ncshiip.com.
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