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Time for Medicare Beneficiaries to Watch Their Mailboxes

mrsc-headerIt’s that time again – time for Medicare beneficiaries to pay attention to changes in their Medicare Prescription Drug Plans for next year. Mailings are about to hit the postal system, and many of them require action.

Beginning October 1, current Prescription Drug Plan insurance companies began mailing the required Annual Notice of Change to their customers. These notices outline changes in monthly premium amounts, annual deductible amounts, prescription copayment amounts, and which prescription drugs are and are not covered by the plan.

For 2013, residents of our area had a choice of 31 plans; for 2014, there will be 30. Deductibles have decreased slightly, premiums on average will remain fairly stable, but some plans have significantly either increased or decreased their monthly fees. 13 plans offered in 2013 have been discontinued; 12 plans are new in 2014.

Medicare recipients have the option of changing from one plan to another only once each year, in the fall. For 2013, this Open Enrollment Period is October 15 through December 7, with changes to be effective January 1. 2014. This means that whatever plan a beneficiary is enrolled in on December 8, 2013 will be the plan they will have for all of 2014.

The state-certified Medicare Insurance Counselors at Maury River Senior Center are gearing up for the Open Enrollment Period by studying the changes and making time available to meet with Medicare beneficiaries. This year, counselors will schedule appointments at the Senior Center and at Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital.

All Medicare insurance counseling is done by appointment only with the Senior Center’s four state-certified counselors. All counseling is confidential and unbiased; the mission of this program is to provide individuals with the facts they need to make an informed decision.

The Social Security Administration will be mailing various letters and forms to those individuals who receive Extra Help subsidies on their Prescription Drug Plan monthly premiums and copayments. Some of these letters are only informational, while others require a response to avoid losing the Extra Help. Individuals should read all these notices carefully, and respond, if necessary, by the stated deadlines.

To schedule an appointment with a Medicare insurance counselor, or to get help with Social Security mailings, area residents should call Maury River Senior Center at 261-7474. The Center is located at 2137 Magnolia Avenue in Buena Vista.

More online at www.MauryRiverSeniorCenter.org.

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