Medicare beneficiaries who want to change their prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan for 2015 can do just that until Dec. 7. The Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP) allows you to update or change your current respective plans. This includes Part D prescription drug plans and Part C Medicare Advantage plans.
Throughout this open enrollment process, you can either enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plan or adjust your current one. Additionally, beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan can revert back to traditional Medicare or change their existing plan. Those without a Medicare Advantage plan can enroll during the ACEP, and any changes made before Dec. 7 are effective Jan. 1, 2015.
Even if you are satisfied with your current plans, everyone with Medicare should review their options for the coming year. Part D and Part C plans may have changed various features like coverage or provider networks. You can visit the Medicare Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov for complete information on 2015 plans.
The Medicare Plan Finder, a tool also available at www.medicare.gov, is a helpful online tool for the tech-savvy. It’s the most efficient and useful tool available for selecting the plan best for you. The Medicare Plan Finder compares all plan options once a user enters their individual drugs and specific dosages and saves this information in case it is needed later. You can also use the finder to enroll in a program once you’ve browsed the best options for you.
There are several other resources available for evaluating and selecting the Part C and D plans. People without Internet access can contact 1-800-MEDICARE or their State Health Insurance Program for assistance.
Different programs and plans have coverage that overlap. If your current Medicare Advantage Plan covers prescription drugs and you join a Part D program, you could be withdrawn from your program and returned to Original Medicare. Beneficiaries should make sure to utilize the above tools and resources, as well as expert consultants, to make sure they are maximizing their Medicare program or programs. You must also be sure to review any changes you are considering with your current provider to ensure coverage under the new plan.
It is important to prioritize enrolling in the right plan as soon as possible. Adjusting your current plans or enrolling in new ones should not be put off, since missing the Dec. 7 deadline could result in lack of coverage and/or a financial penalty.
Sam W. Boone, Jr. is a Gainesville-based attorney practicing elder law and estate planning. He is past-president of the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys. To learn more about elder-law issues, go online to www. http://boonelaw.com, or call (352)-374-8308.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that will be presented in this newsletter by Sam W. Boone, Jr., a local attorney whose primary practice areas include elder law, estate planning, probate and trust administration. It is hoped that the information will be valuable for caregivers and family members dealing with issues related to elder law.