Medicare changes and your costs

COAST CITIES — One new rule for Medicare actually went into affect this year. For those of you who have gone into the “doughnut hole” with your medication expenses, you will receive up to a $250 rebate check from your Medicare insurer. The first $250 you had to spend in the “doughnut hole” is covered.
A big change for the 2011 plans is the window for enrollments or plan changes. The Annual Enrollment Period is still Nov.15, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2010, when you can switch plans. The new change is after Dec. 31 you can not switch plans through March like you could in the past. So the window to make any changes has shrunk from 4 and a half months to 1 and a half months. From Jan. 1, 2011, to Feb. 15, 2011, there is a disenrollment period where you can leave your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to original Medicare.
This shorter window may catch people by surprise. For example, if you are on Secure Horizons Plan 3 because you want to go to Scripps Clinic, but want to enroll in the new Secure Horizons Value plan ($25 monthly premium) which now includes Scripps Clinic and save $528 annually in premiums, you must do this before Dec. 31, 2010.
In 2011, there is more help for those in the “doughnut hole.” The $250 rebate will be there, plus there is discount of 50 percent on brand name drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic drugs.
When you turn 65, you have a seven-month window to sign up for Medicare. The window is three months before your birthday month to three months after. Don’t wait, plan ahead.
For more information on your Medicare options, call Douglas Kerr, Secure Horizon Advisor (Lic#0G64783) at (760) 473-7721. Doug also does Educational Medicare update presentations for groups. Doug has lived in Encinitas for 22 years, and is a member of the Encinitas Rotary Club and a Chamber of Commerce member.

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