by David Sayen
Medicare regional administrator
Some people with Medicare are asking lately if their Medicare coverage is affected by the new the Health Insurance Marketplace that starts in 2014. The answer is no– the Marketplace won’t have any effect on your Medicare coverage.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed to help people who don’t have any health insurance. In fact, it’s against the law for someone who knows that you have Medicare to sell you a Marketplace plan.
No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have the same security you have now. And you won’t have to make any changes.
The Marketplace provides new health-insurance options for many Americans. If you have family and friends who don’t have health insurance, tell them to visit HealthCare.gov to learn more about their options.
If you have Medicare, keep in mind that Medicare’s Open Enrollment season is coming. It begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. Medicare Open Enrollment is the time when all people with Medicare are encouraged to review their current health and prescription-drug coverage, including any changes in costs, coverage and benefits that will take effect next year.
If you want to change your coverage for next year, this is the time to do it. If you’re satisfied that your current coverage will continue to meet your needs for next year, you don’t need to do anything. But beware that the Medicare Open Enrollment period is a time when there’s a higher risk for fraudulent activities.
Do not share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who knocks on your door or contacts you uninvited to sell you a health plan. Senior Medicare Patrol programs are teaching people with Medicare how to detect and report fraud, and protect themselves from fraudulent activity and identity theft.
To learn more about health care fraud and ways to protect against it, visit stopmedicarefraud.gov or the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program in your area. (Locate your SMP at smpresource.org .)
Medicare is stronger than ever, with more benefits, better choices, and lower costs to beneficiaries. Expanded Medicare benefits under the health care law (the Affordable Care Act) are available, including certain free preventive benefits, cancer screenings, and an annual wellness visit. These preventive benefits are available with no cost to patients when furnished by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit allows people to sit down and discuss with their doctor their healthcare needs and the best ways to stay healthy.
Medicare will notify beneficiaries about plan performance and use its online Plan Finder to encourage enrollment in quality plans. Plans are rated from one to five stars, with five stars indicating the highest-quality plans.
Average premiums for 2014 for prescription-drug coverage and Medicare health plans will remain stable. People who are in the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit will enjoy 53 percent discounts on covered brand-name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs.
So don’t be concerned about all the ads you may be seeing for the new Health Insurance Marketplace.
The Marketplace won’t affect your Medicare coverage and isn’t part of Medicare Open Enrollment. You don’t need to enroll in the Marketplace to maintain or change your Medicare coverage.
David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. For answers to Medicare-related questions, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).