As we move into the month of October, I wanted to take the time to revisit the topic of Medicare. As a member of the Senate Aging Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, which have jurisdiction over Medicare, I believe this program is crucial to keeping our nation’s seniors happy and healthy, without overwhelming medical costs. Starting this month, Medicare recipients are able to make certain changes to their accounts. Open enrollment for Medicare Parts C and D for 2016 runs from October 15th to December 7th. I want to ensure that Nevadans remain up-to-date on what Medicare plan best fits their needs, and my office is here as a resource should you have questions.
Medicare has four key parts to understand. Medicare Part A is hospital insurance that covers inpatient care in hospitals, home health care, nursing home care, and hospice care. Medicare Part B is medical insurance that covers services for doctors’ visits, preventive services, medical equipment, outpatient care, and home health care. Original or Traditional Medicare includes both Parts A and B. Additional benefits through a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan can be purchased under Part C. This may be helpful if you have growing health needs that traditional Medicare may not cover. This also generally includes prescription drug coverage, much like Medicare Part D. Part D is Medicare prescription drug coverage and is also run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies.
The open enrollment period beginning on October 15th allows Medicare beneficiaries to enroll or make changes to their Medicare Part C and Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Part D for 2016. During this time, Medicare recipients can:
- Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare
- Switch between Medicare Advantage Plans
- Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan that does not offer drug coverage to one that does, or vice versa
- Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
- Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another
- Drop Medicare prescription drug coverage completely (Penalties could apply if you eventually re-enroll)
The open enrollment period addressing Original Medicare runs from January 1st to March 31st. During this time, seniors can switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare, with a deadline of February 14th to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
As a reminder, enrollment continues year-round for newly-eligible seniors.
I hope you find this information helpful. If you or any other Nevadans are facing difficulties with this program, my staff and I would be happy to assist you. To reach my Las Vegas office, please call (702) 388-6605.
I also encourage you to call (800) MEDICARE or visit http://www.medicare.gov/ to review your coverage options. Additionally, should you have questions regarding which plan will be best for you, the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is available to offer assistance in comparing plans– at no cost to you. SHIP can be contacted statewide at (800) 307-4444, and additional information is also available on SHIP’s website at http://adsd.nv.gov/Programs/Seniors/SHIP/SHIP_Prog/. +