Special enrollment periods kick off New YearHappy New Year. May 2013 be prosperous and filled with abundant good health for you and yours!
Happy New Year.
May 2013 be prosperous and filled with abundant good health for you and yours!
The new year will once again bring some changes for many beneficiaries. Those who are collecting Social Security retirement benefits will receive another cost of living increase this year. Amounts will vary according to the amount of each individual’s benefit but the rate of the increase this year is 1.7 percent.
Medicare premiums will also increase in 2013. The premium for Part B Medicare that is typically deducted from monthly Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits will be $104.90 — some people with higher incomes may pay a higher premium. — beginning this month. This year welcomes slightly increased federal subsidies to the Medicare Part D benefit in the form of reduced costs for those beneficiaries who find themselves in the coverage gap, otherwise known as the “doughnut hole.”
There are three Medicare enrollment periods that you should be aware of in 2013. If you didn’t sign up for Part A or Part B, for which you pay monthly premiums, when you were first eligible, there is a General Enrollment Period during which you can sign up between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year. Your coverage will begin July 1. You may have to pay a higher premium for late enrollment.
There is also a Disenrollment Period between Jan. 1 and Feb. 14. If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can leave your plan and switch to original Medicare at this time. If you switch to original Medicare during this period, you will have until Feb. 14 to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after the plan gets your enrollment form. During this period, you cannot switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan; switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another.; switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another; or join, switch, or drop a Medicare Medical Savings Account Plan.
Finally, the Five-Star Special Enrollment Period continues in 2013. Medicare uses information from member satisfaction surveys, plans, and health care providers to give overall performance star ratings to plan. A plan can get a rating between one to five stars. A five-star rating is considered excellent. These ratings help you compare plans based on quality and performance.
You can now switch to a five-star Medicare Advantage Plan at any time during the year.
The overall plan star ratings are available at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan. You can only join a five-star Medicare Advantage Plan if one is available in your area. You can only use this special enrollment period to switch to a five-star plan one time each year.
If you have any questions, call Pat Nelson, elder benefit specialist, at 715-395-7533 or 715-394-3611.