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With open enrollment approaching, shore up your benefit terms
Nashville, TN – There are more than 1 million beneficiaries nationwide who have received non-renewal notices from their Medicare Advantage or Private Fee for Service plans within the past few weeks.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance are warning of agents who seek to take advantage of this and use aggressive marketing tactics to get beneficiaries enrolled in different plans.
Seniors receiving Social Security benefits might not be getting a cost-of-living-adjustment in the coming year, so it is more important than ever to make sure your Medicare prescription plan is the best for your budget and your needs. Also, this year, some plans have chosen not to renew their contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), meaning some seniors may be forced to choose a new option.
During open enrollment for Medicare prescription drug coverage, November 15th-December 31st, 2010, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) – of which the Department of Commerce & Insurance is a member – offers this information to help apprise you of your insurance options.
What do I need to consider when choosing a plan?
Compare plans and consider:
What if I am already enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage? Plan features might change from year to year. Carefully examine all available plans during the annual enrollment period because your current plan may no longer best meet your needs. Review the features of your plan, including the list of drugs covered, the list of participating pharmacies, the premium, the deductible, the cost-sharing requirements, the provider network and any coverage gaps. You do not need to do anything to remain in your current plan. If you enroll in or make changes to your plan during the annual open enrollment period, your new coverage begins January 1st, 2010. You should continue to pay premium for your old coverage through December 31st, 2009.
What if I am enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that is not renewing for 2011? Certain Medicare Advantage plans (including some with prescription coverage) have chosen not to renew their contracts with CMS for 2011. If you have received notice your plan will not renew in 2011, you should have received information about your options for selecting a new Medicare Advantage plan or returning to original Medicare. If you return to original Medicare, you can still apply for Medicare prescription coverage and/or Medicare supplement (Medigap) coverage.
State and federal rules are in place to protect consumers against abuses in the marketing and sales of Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. Individuals who contact you about any type of private Medicare coverage:
Unfortunately, not everyone who contacts you about switching to a Medicare drug plan has the best intentions. To protect yourself from scam artists intent on taking advantage of your situation, here are some additional tips to avoid becoming a victim:
Other Important Considerations
Federal assistance with premiums is available to Medicare beneficiaries who meet certain income requirements. If you think you may qualify, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-SSA-1213 (1-800-772-1213).
Medicare beneficiaries may seek assistance in reviewing options for coverage and obtaining financial assistance by contacting their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). For Tennessee’s SHIP, visit: www.state.tn.us/comaging/ship.html.
For more information about your Medicare prescription drug options including an online Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, go to www.medicare.gov. Find more information about your changing insurance needs and tips for choosing the coverage that is best for your and your family at www.InsureUOnline.org.
Tennesseans who encounter issues with agents in this or any other matter should contact the Tennessee Insurance Division at 615-741-2176 or by e-mailing Insurance.Info@TN.Gov. Medicare-related concerns should be directed to Tennessee’s SHIP office at 1-877-801-0044.
The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/
TopicsInsurance, Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Social Security, Social Security Administration, Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division, Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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