Thursday, March 15, 2012

Medicare Benefit Changes and How They Affect Your Coverage

The one consistent thing about Medicare is that it is constantly changing.  The changes can be in the benefits coverage you receive with Medicare Plan A and Plan B, it can be with the rates for Medicare coverage, the deadlines for when you can sign up or switch plans.  Finding Medicare coverage that fits perfectly for your lifestyle can be a hassle in itself let alone dealing with the constants changes associated with it.  For most situations it is ideal to work with a trusted, private Medicare insurance group.  They will keep you a breast of changes and work with you to completely understand your current circumstances and changing needs.  This can not only save you time and frustration but can also help save you from purchasing coverage that doesn’t make sense for your need which in turn saves you valuable funds.

There are many changes for the 2012 calendar year with Medicare.  One change is the enrollment period of when you become eligible to enroll for drug and health plan benefits.  Another change is the period in which you can eliminate your Medicare Advantage choice and enroll instead in plain Medicare.  The new rules state that any change made to the plan will then take effect the first of the following month.  

Another major change in Medicare started in 2011 and will continue into 2012.  This change involves preventative services.  This would include such things as pap smears, flu shots and other services classified as preventative.   Major expense that have previously been a patient responsibility that are now considered within the preventative category are tests such as colonoscopies, prostate screens, diabetes tests as well as bone density testing.  Even annual wellness exams are covered.  Remember however that your doctors and hospital services are still your responsibility unless you have purchased a separate Medicare Supplemental Insurance plan to cover such expenses.  

Medicare Advantage has included changes to their “managed care” plan as well.  The good news is that you now qualify for extra protections from the increased out of pocket costs for certain treatments than your fellow standard Medicare participants.  The major areas in which this is seen are the areas of chemotherapy, kidney dialysis and nursing provided within the skilled care area. It is also important to know that the Medicare Advantage plan recently also set a maximum annual out of pocket expense for all outpatient and hospitalization services.  

Prescription coverage has also changed.  Medicare Part D, prescription drug coverage will also include some much needed relief to the pocket book. If you regularly take prescription medicine you will see a decrease in your out of pocket expenses.  

Another cool change that is effect in 2012 is when participants are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid.  If placed in a long term care facility, long term services within the home or nursing home, you will no longer be required to pay any prescription drug co-payments.  

Changes with in Medicare are certain.  Medicare offers many Americans health care coverage as they turn 65 which help to decrease the number of elderly citizens living without health care benefits.  Figuring out how the changes affect your individual circumstance can often be tricky.  Confusion can be eliminated with the help of professionals who are knowledgeable with the twist and turns involved inside Medicare, inevitable leading to more bang for your health care buck.