Medicare enrollment deadline looms - East Valley Tribune: Health

Medicare enrollment deadline looms

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Posted: Saturday, December 16, 2006 2:35 am | Updated: 3:46 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

With lights, decorations and festive music everywhere, it must be Medicare open enrollment time. People ages 65 and older have until Dec. 31 to either enroll in a Medicare drug coverage plan, or switch plans if they find one that better suits their needs.

Jeff Flick, regional Medicare administrator, visited the Sunland Village East retirement community Friday to get the word out about Medicare enrollment.

“Every single year, all of the plans submit bids, and so sometimes the prices go up a little bit and sometimes the prices go down a little bit,” he said. “It’s important that people pay attention to this every year so they can fi gure out if they want to stay with the plan that they’re already with or choose a new plan. If they decide to stay with the plan that they’re already with, they don’t have to take any action at all.”

Seniors should consider the “three Cs” when comparing plans: cost, coverage and customer service, Flick said.

“Find out if the coverage is more or less, and make sure that the drugs that you’re taking now are going to be covered in the next year,” he said.

In Arizona, some plans have no monthly premium, while the maximum premium is just above $80, he said.

“Some of the plans have complete coverage, so there’s very comprehensive coverage available,” he said. -“It would make sense for somebody to choose that plan if they know they’re going to be taking a lot of prescription medications.”

If you want to switch plans, all you have to do is enroll in a new plan and your enrollment in the current plan automatically will be canceled, Flick said.

“It’s a very, very important deadline because if they do not get into a drug plan by Dec. 31 ... if they get sick during the year, some of these drug costs for a disease like cancer can run $40,000, $50,000 or $60,000 a year, and they have to pay all of that out of their pocket,” he said. “Having this prescription drug coverage is very important, even if you are a Medicare beneficiary who’s not taking any drugs at all. You never know when you’re going to become ill.” Ed Zarr, a Sunland Village East resident and program director of the community’s computer club, said enrolling by computer makes the experience easier and more comfortable. “I can go back and do more (plan comparisons) in the comfort of my home,” he said. “You can do this at home.”

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