As Earlier Medicare Open Enrollment Period Begins, AARP Urges Californians to Review their Options

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Medicare's open enrollment period beginning earlier this year, AARP is reminding all Californians that this is the one time each year when all Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their coverage.  The Medicare open enrollment period begins on October 15 this year, and people with Medicare have until December 7 to add, drop or change prescription drug and health care plans for 2012.  AARP encourages all Californians in Medicare to review their options each year during open enrollment.  

"This year, the open enrollment period begins earlier and has been extended to seven weeks," said AARP California State President David Pacheco.  "We want to make certain that people in Medicare, especially the nearly 350,000 Californians who are turning 65 this year, are aware of the early date and use the opportunity to find the plan that best fits their needs."

People with Medicare can use the Medicare Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to research prescription drug and health plans that will be available in 2012.  After reviewing available plans, AARP recommends considering the following when making decisions to change coverage:

  • Costs, including the monthly premium, the annual deductible and cost-sharing;
  • Coverage for the doctors and pharmacies included in the plan and the prescription drugs and other services you need; and,
  • Quality Ratings, which are provided for most Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.  These ratings are based on the quality of care and the customer service each plan provides.

AARP has a website dedicated to helping people get the information they need to make the best decisions during open enrollment.  The website, www.aarp.org/openenrollment, includes guidance on the choices available to consumers during open enrollment and questions to consider when choosing a Medicare plan.  

AARP has several additional resources to help people navigate open enrollment, including:

  • The AARP Drug Savings Tool (available at drugsavings.aarp.org) allows users to select the drug they want to compare from Consumer Reports Health's database of about 500 drugs in 26 drug classes and provides consumers with "Best Buy" recommendations and a discussion sheet to help guide related conversations with their doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.
  • The AARP Doughnut Hole Calculator, available at www.aarp.org/doughnuthole, guides visitors through their prescription drug options using localized information about their plans and prescriptions to determine if or when they will fall into the coverage gap.  In about 15 minutes, visitors can view a graph of their out-of-pocket spending by month, look up lower cost drugs for their conditions, create a Personal Medication Record and print out personalized letters to their doctors to help start a conversation about safely switching prescriptions.
  • A comprehensive guide to Medicare prescription drug coverage found at www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/medicare_partD_guide/.
  • AARP has resources on open enrollment available in Spanish, which can be found at www.aarp.org/espanol/salud/medicare-y-el-seguro/.

"You can make changes to get the health insurance benefits and drug coverage that fit you best. Or, you don't have to make any changes if you don't need or want to," Pacheco added.  "But this is the time to evaluate your options and pick the plan that works best for you.  Making a smart decision now can help you get the care you need in 2012."

For more information please visit www.aarp.org/openenrollment.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

SOURCE AARP

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