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Savvy Medicare Consumers Can Save Hundreds During Medicare Open Enrollment
Date:10/11/2011

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This Saturday marks the beginning of Medicare's Annual Open Enrollment Period, which runs through December 7. During this time, people with Medicare can select or change their Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for 2012, along with a host of other options.

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Medicare, and related programs, offer a wide range of benefits and services to help older adults, and individuals with disabilities, live a healthier life. But far too many beneficiaries are not familiar with what's available or how to use their benefits to the fullest. People with Medicare need to understand what coverage they currently have and shop around for plans that may better fit their health needs, and save them money.

Recently, NCOA surveyed baby boomers and seniors regarding their knowledge of Medicare.  Among other findings, the survey showed that a large percentage of baby boomers and seniors aged 65+ do not understand Medicare, and are unaware of important recent or impending changes to the program, specifically that the Open Enrollment Period starts and ends earlier this year, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, or health care reform.  

Details on the poll, sponsored by UnitedHealthCare, can be found at www.ncoa.org/Medicare.

"Medicare plans change every year, and this year, the changes are significant," said Nora Dowd Eisenhower, vice president, Benefits Access Group, and director of NCOA's National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment. "Beneficiaries should review their current plan and their health needs and explore options during Open Enrollment. Since plans change, it's important to make sure you're in the one that best meets your coverage needs. This could save you hundreds of dollars."

NCOA Tools Can Help Save Seniors Hundreds

With a suite of tools from NCOA, people with Medicare can determine which plan best fits their needs and budget, and find other assistance to help them pay for prescription and healthcare costs.

My Medicare Matters (www.mymedicarematters.org) gives Medicare consumers the direction they need to review their drug plan and other choices for 2012. Consumers can find a guide to decision-making and helpful worksheets for selecting a drug plan.

My Medicare Matters also offers detailed information on two programs that help low-income people afford Medicare — the Medicare Savings Programs and Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS)/Extra Help. In addition to providing information online, the site is interactive, giving users local referrals, so they can find further assistance on Medicare and other benefits and services in their communities.

My Medicare Matters is funded in part by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.

The Annual Open Enrollment Period is also a great time for people with Medicare to use BenefitsCheckUp®, NCOA's free online screening service (www.BenefitsCheckUp.org). Here they can not only learn about changes to Medicare Part D and the Low-Income Subsidy/Extra Help, they can also discover whether they may qualify for additional benefits that help pay for prescription drugs, healthcare, and other household costs.

For additional information, visit www.ncoa.org.

About NCOA
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for millions of older adults — especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged — and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, please visit: www.ncoa.org | www.facebook.com/NCOAging | www.twitter.com/NCOAging

About BenefitsCheckUp®
Developed and maintained by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), BenefitsCheckUp is the nation's most comprehensive Web-based service to screen for benefits programs for seniors with limited income and resources. It includes almost 2,000 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since 2001, more than 2.9 million people have used the service, identifying benefits valued at more than $10.5 billion.  For more information, visit www.benefitscheckup.org.

About My Medicare Matters
MyMedicareMatters is a community-based education and outreach initiative sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) with support from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP

About AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines. As a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease medicines, AstraZeneca generated global revenues of $32.8 billion in 2009. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $14.8 billion healthcare business. For more information about AstraZeneca in the US or the AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings programs, please visit: www.astrazeneca-us.com or call 1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).


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SOURCE National Council on Aging
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