Open enrollment for 2015 Medicare Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans is under way.
During the open enrollment period, Medicare recipients must decide if they will stay with their current plan or switch. Those with traditional Medicare can choose from 24 stand-alone drug plans in 2015, down from 30 this year.
You can compare Part D drug plans at Medicare's Plan Finder website (nwsdy.li/medicare2015). If you are happy with your current plan, you don't have to do anything because you will be automatically renewed. But be aware that drugs covered by a plan can change from year to year, so check your plan's 2015 medications list to make sure you will be covered. If your current plan is not offered in 2015, you must choose a new one or Medicare will automatically enroll you in a plan that may not best fit your needs.
For a primer on what to look for when you compare plans, go to nwsdy.li/medicarecompare.
The most popular Part D plan in New York in 2014 is the AARP MedicareRx Preferred. The monthly premium for the AARP plan for 2015 will be $52.10, up from $44.30 this year.
Unlike Part D plans, which are uniformly offered statewide, Medicare Advantage plans are offered at the county level. In 2015, there will be 29 Medicare Advantage plans in Nassau and 25 in Suffolk. Most Medicare Advantage plans also have drug coverage that substitutes for Part D plans. Medicare Advantage plans are run by private companies and combine traditional Medicare with added coverage for services such as dental and vision care, which are typically not covered by Medicare. You also can get information on Medicare Advantage plans at the Plan Finder site. The open enrollment period for both Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage ends Dec. 7.
Do not mistake the Medicare open enrollment period with the health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. No Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare Part D plans are offered on the ACA exchanges. Further, Medicare is warning seniors to be on alert for scam artists telling them they have to sign up for an ACA plan. The fraudsters offer to sign them up and ask the senior for Social Security numbers or bank account information.
You can get some tips and advice at a free Medicare workshop at Cold Spring Harbor Library on Tuesday, starting at 7 p.m. For information, call 631-692-6820. You also can get help by calling Medicare at 800-Medicare (800-633-4227).