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Mark Your Calendar - Open Enrollment for Medicare Prescription Drug and Health Plans Starts Earlier
Date:9/14/2011

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"The Medicare Star Quality Ratings provide a convenient source of valuable information that helps seniors make educated choices when selecting a Medicare plan," says Herman Weil, senior vice president, Kaiser Permanente Medicare programs. "We recommend that seniors use this rating system to ensure that their plan meets CMS' high standards."

Plan performance summary star ratings are assessed each year and may change from one year to the next. Consumers can visit Medicare.gov and learn about Medicare plans using the Medicare Plan Finder, and can view the "overall plan rating" to see the highest rated plans in their area.

Beneficiaries should also be aware that beginning December 8, 2011, Medicare rules allow most beneficiaries to enroll in 5-Star Medicare Advantage plans throughout the year. This means that beneficiaries do not have to wait until the Fall open enrollment period next year if they want to change their plan and enroll in a 5 Star plan, if one is available in their area.

To assist seniors in choosing the Medicare plan that is right for them, below is a quick overview of the Medicare basics.

Original Medicare is offered to most Americans over 65 and those who are disabled, and provides coverage for Parts A and B. Generally you pay a deductible and coinsurance. You may purchase a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan. Many beneficiaries also purchase a Medicare supplemental insurance policy to fill gaps in Original Medicare.

A Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO) is a health plan run by private companies with Medicare contracts. These plans are often called "Part C," and combine Parts A, B, and usually Part D.  With such a plan, you don't need a supplemental policy. You may pay a monthly premium and copayments for covered services.

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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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