Medicare beneficiaries in the Vero Beach and Port St. Lucie area should be aware that the annual open enrollment period begins soon. From October 15 until December 7, beneficiaries can change their Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage plans, as well as make other changes to their Medicare health care benefits. Even though there will generally be fewer available Part D plans this year, Medicare beneficiaries will still have a wide range of options choose from.
Here’s what you should know about the 2015 Medicare open enrollment options.
Open Enrollment and Part D Prescription Drug Plans
According to experts at the Kaiser Family Foundation, there will be about 1,001 prescription drug benefit plans available to Medicare beneficiaries this year. That represents a slight decrease from previous years, though the decrease won’t pose a significant limitation for most people. Because insurance companies provide these plans to people based on the area they live, each person who wants to sign up for, or change, their Part D prescription drug benefit plan will have about two dozen plans from which to choose.
The fewer drug plans available this year will also likely lead to a slight decrease in premiums for the average person. Kaiser reports that the average person will pay just under $40 in premiums for prescription drug plans in 2015, a decrease of about 2% from premium costs in 2014. The organization cautioned, however, that some programs can see a significant increase in premiums, so all Medicare open enrollment beneficiaries should carefully review their plans to see what changes, if any, will occur.
Experts also say that insurance companies are continuing to pass on additional costs to the consumer. One way they are doing this is by decreasing the number of prescription drug benefit plans they are offering that do not have a deductible. In 2013, about 47% of all Medicare Part D plans had no deductible. In 2014, that number will decrease to about 42%.
Part D and Medicare Advantage
During the open enrollment period, Medicare beneficiaries can not only adopt or update their Part D prescription drug benefit plans, but they can also change their Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage health care plans are offered by private insurance companies, and are designed to provide Medicare beneficiaries with the exact same benefits they would receive if they signed up for Medicare Part A and Part B. During the open enrollment plan, people with Medicare Advantage plans can choose to change the plan for the coming year, while those who are not enrolled in an Advantage plan can choose to sign up. Similarly, those with an Advantage plan can choose to leave and opt for the more traditional Part A and Part B coverage.