2012 Medicare open enrollment comes early

Medicare’s open enrollment period is just two days away – are you ready? Whether you are a beneficiary, a caregiver or know someone who is, you can help spread the word about Medicare open enrollment and where people can find information and help.

What’s different about this year is that the timeframe for open enrollment begins earlier – on October 15 – and ends earlier – on  December 7.  This adjustment was made to help ensure beneficiaries may have continuous coverage through January 1 with minimal disruption.

Beneficiaries will have seven weeks to explore new medical and prescription drug coverage options and select the plans that work best for them. There are many useful resources available to help enrollees evaluate coverage options and make informed decisions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Plan Finder tool is now uploaded with 2012 plan information. Plan Finder allows you to search and compare compare health plans, policies and prescription drug coverage options in your area. According to CMS, the Plan Finder had 280 million page views last year.

Another helpful resource is My Medicare Matters, led by the National Coalition on Aging, that has a consumer-friendly Web site that takes one step by step through the decision-process and includes links to specific sections of the Medicare.gov Web site.

Since 2005, My Medicare Matters has supported over 4,500 people navigate through Medicare enrollment through their “Ask the Expert” service, as well as recommendations to other local resources that offer enrollment support within one’s community.

Because plan options and personal health needs change each year, it’s important to take the time to review the 2012 the options carefully. Resources like these can make that process easier for beneficiaries and caregivers.

As we wrote about here, Medicare Part D provides critical access to medicines for America’s seniors, and helps save money on other health care costs.