Last updated: August 24. 2013 11:24AM - 124 Views

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Friday ends Medicare

open enrollment

Medicare enrollees may make certain changes in their health care plans through Friday. In addition, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has improved benefits for enrollees. Already many Medicare beneficiaries with high prescription drug needs have seen their costs decrease. They will continue to save on their out-of-pocket costs as the “donut hole” is fully phased out in 2020.

The ‘donut hole’ is a coverage gap that one-quarter of Medicare beneficiaries hit when they exceed their initial annual coverage until they reach the catastrophic coverage threshold. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures that seniors and persons with disabilities on Medicare have access to preventive screenings with no co-pay or deductible. This reduces out-of-pocket health care costs and encourages more beneficiaries to seek cancer and other health screenings. The Affordable Care Act did not cut benefits in the Medicare Advantage plans.

The law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. The savings mostly come from scaled back payments to insurers participating in the Medicare Advantage Program and to providers. Medicare can be complicated, comparing plans can be confusing, and decisions for beneficiaries can be difficult. When comparing plans, seniors and persons with disabilities should check to make sure their physicians are still part of the plan they choose and they should look at their prescription drug costs, including co-pays and out-of-pocket costs. Medicare participants who are happy with their benefits don’t have to do anything but it is a good idea and can be financially beneficial to make sure that coverage has not changed and to consider options during this open enrollment period.

Tools to compare plans and options can be found at www.medicare.gov. Cathy J. Levine, JD Executive Director, UHCAN Ohio 370 South Fifth Street Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 456-0060, ext. 222 614-313-7478 (cell)

— Cathy J. Levine, Executive Director UHCAN Ohio, Columbus

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