By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Open Enrollment On Way For Medicare


It might be considered a rather lackluster subject, but it's an important one. Seniors and citizens who are on Medicare plans need to be prepared for open enrollment. It will open up on Oct. 15 and stay open until Dec. 7, giving folks close to two months to review their plan and make changes if they're needed that will go into effect by Jan. 1.

Anyone on Medicare should check their mailboxes in the next few weeks to see new guidelines and and changes that will go into effect in the next year. Medicare won't see any major overhauls, but according to Jenny Chalmers, of Eastern Action Montana, the Center for Medicare Services has announced that the monthly premiums for prescription drug plans will increase on average about $1 a month, or up to $32 a year.

Chalmers explained that even if you think nothing will change, it's a good time to review. She said that an individual she helped who was in the what's called the donut hole. The donut hole is where the person falls into a gap not covered by Medicare. The client was paying the full amount for Part D, which covers prescriptions, and she would end up paying $1,000 toward her medications reaching the catastrophic levels until she could get more coverage. When they reviewed her plan, they realized she could change it and pay only $80 for her medications.

“What might work now, might not always work,” Chalmers said.

Other changes that may occur are to monthly premiums. Cost sharing terms may also change. That means the level of copays can change on an annual basis. Chalmers said that maybe this year you could have had a $20 copay for a tier two perception, but in the upcoming year the carrier can change it. Instead of $20 charge, some plans may have changed to 20 percent coinsurance – which would change your out-of-pocket expenses.

Other issues may be that some prescriptions that were covered under the program the year before, but may have changed or dropped in the upcoming years.

Changes in your income and circumstances can also change the plans you might want to sign up for. This year there have been some changes made for lower income, where some may have zero premiums, or help could be available to some for those signed up for Part B or D.

For questions, concerns or help to review your Medicaid, call Jenny Chalmers at 228-9751, or go to 334 Court Square in Glasgow. Changes can be made more than once until the enrollment period is over.


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