Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Medicare Open Enrollment

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the start of the Medicare Open Enrollment, which begins October 15th and ends December 7th.  CMS encourages people with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage options for 2014.  Medicare’s Open Enrollment is not part of the Affordable Care Act’s new Health Insurance Marketplace, and people with Medicare do not need to do anything with Marketplace plans.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare remains strong with more benefits, better choices, and lower costs to beneficiaries,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “Seniors and people with disabilities have the opportunity to find and compare the best plan for them.”

View a brief video on Medicare Open Enrollment.

CMS announced last month that the average Medicare Advantage (MA) premium is projected to be $32.60.   Earlier this year, CMS estimated that the average basic Medicare prescription drug premium plan in 2014 was projected to be $31 per month, holding steady for four years in a row.  Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, average MA premiums are down by 9.8 percent.  The deductible for standard Part D plans will decline by $15 in 2014 to $310.  Prescription drug and health plan quality continues to improve as over one-third of MA contracts will receive four or more stars, which is an increase from 28 percent last year.  CMS is allowing 5-star Medicare health and prescription drug plans to enroll beneficiaries at any time during the year.

Medicare plans coverage options and costs can change each year, and Medicare beneficiaries should evaluate their current coverage and choices, and select the plan that best meets their needs.  If people with Medicare are satisfied with their current coverage and feel it will meet their needs for 2014, they to do not need to do anything.

For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2014 Medicare health and drug plans, and view state-by-state fact sheets, please visit:

Resources for Medicare Beneficiaries

People with Medicare, their families, and caregivers can review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings, using many proven resources, including:

·         Visiting to see plan coverage and costs available in their area, and enroll in a new plan if they decide to make a change.  Open Enrollment information is available in Spanish.

·         Calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about coverage options.  TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.  Multilingual counseling is available.

·         Reviewing the 2014 Medicare & You handbook.  It is accessible online at: -- and it has been mailed to the homes of people with Medicare.

·         Getting one-on-one counseling assistance from the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).  Local SHIP contact information can be found:

o   At or;
o   On the back of the 2014 Medicare & You handbook or;
o   By calling Medicare (contact information above)

People with Medicare who have limited income and resources may qualify for Extra Help paying for their prescription drug costs.  There is no cost or obligation to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy.  Medicare beneficiaries, family members, or caregivers can apply online at or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.

Protecting Against Fraud and Theft

During Medicare Open Enrollment, Medicare recommends that people with Medicare treat their Medicare number as they do their Social Security number and credit card information.  People with Medicare should never give their personal information to anyone arriving at their home uninvited or making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services.  Beneficiaries who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft should contact Medicare (contact information above).  More information is at

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