Medicare Open Enrollment: The Tools Are There to Help Your Loved Ones Make Good Plan Choices

Medicare Open Enrollment: The Tools Are There to Help Your Loved Ones Make Good Plan Choices

11.15.12 | By Rick Smith

Once again, it's time for Medicare open enrollment, when beneficiaries select their Medicare coverage for the coming year. I've been helping my mother select a Part D prescription drug plan, as I'm sure many of you are doing for your own parents. Seniors, often working with family members, friends, or caregivers, can achieve important benefits by taking the time to review their available plan choices.

A recent study found that seniors (often with the help of their support systems like you and me) are learning from their experience with Part D over time and switching plans when they can save money, or when a different plan better fits their individual health needs. The study, which we have highlighted in our Rx Minute newsletter this month, shows that seniors are adapting to get the best drug coverage for their money. Research PhRMA sponsored found that even in 2006, Part D's first year, seniors disproportionately chose plans with lower premiums and deductibles and broader choice of medicines. In sum, choice works, benefiting seniors.

Additionally, a new tool exists to help seniors make good choices. Medicare plans are now assigned star ratings, out of five possible stars, so that seniors can tell upon quick glance which plans are performing well, and which ones are not. It's important to look at all plan features, including how the specific medicines an individual uses are covered, but the star ratings are an added tool that can help seniors make good choices.

Like you, I want the very best when it comes to my mother's health, and this includes helping to select the best Medicare plan for her. Whether you are helping your parent, a friend's parent, or an elderly neighbor, the Medicare Plan Finder has good information on which drugs are covered by each plan, and , premiums, cost-sharing, and how well the plan is providing the benefit. These tools will help you and your loved one select the plan that best fits their needs.

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