SHINE leader Hallie Devlin spoke to about 75 people at Marco Lutheran Church at the yearly Medicare update event on November 8. SHINE, Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, offers counseling services from enrollment in Medicare to assistance with long-term care options, prescription resources, supplemental policies and more.
It is funded by Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
“The most important thing this time of the year about Medicare is open enrollment from November 15 to December 31,” Hallie Devlin explained. “During that time people can change their drug coverage and their advantage coverage.”
“Every one should reconsider, even if they are happy with their provider. Companies each year change the drugs that they cover. They change deductibles, co-pays, premiums. What might have been the best, least expensive plan a year ago may no longer be their best choice now.”
Next year this event will be held earlier because of the change of enrollment dates October 1 to December 7, 2011.
The options for individuals are so complex that only general information was presented starting with the new costs. If you were on Medicare part B by 2009 your cost will remain $96.40. Anyone enrolling after 2009 will pay $115.40 up $5 from 2010. Higher income levels will pay more.
Page 45 of the 2011 Medicare book gives a chart of covered preventive services. There are some new ones.
Part D, the drug plan, is so complex that you may need assistance with it. There are fewer plans due to consolidation. Look for a plan that has the best coverage at a reasonable cost. Husband and wife may opt for different plans to get the best drug coverage. Look for co-pay, drugs covered, prior authorization and those who may require a step therapy (try one drug and then another)
Advantage plans wrap A, B and sometimes D plans all together. Others might have dental and vision. They can be cheaper but some physicians will not accept these plans. Check with your doctor before changing to see if they accept this coverage.
SHINE volunteers can be found at the Social Security office on US 41. You do need to book an appointment. Call 1-800 963-5337 to contact them with a question or to request one-on-one counseling. The services are free and confidential.
On the web you can compare drug programs at www.floir.com. Also look at www.medicare.gov using your zip code to compare drug plans in Collier Co. and calculate costs. “Remember the cheapest is not always the best,” Hallie noted.
Expect changes. Be informed.