AARP estimates that a million Medicare beneficiaries may need new coverage as insurance companies consolidate and eliminate hundreds of plans to reduce duplicate coverage. Insurers are expected to drop approximately 16 percent of the current Medicare Advantage Plans and 36 percent of the existing Part D Prescription Drug Plans before January 1, 2011.
The Medicare Advantage Plans that are left will offer new protection. These plans must cap annual out-of-pocket expenses for in-network Medicare-covered services at $6,700. The new plans will also be blocked from billing higher co-insurance and co-pay charges for chemotherapy than what people with Original Medicare pay. Advantage Plans may still charge higher co-pays and deductibles for less critical services, though.
Until December 31, you can still take advantage of open enrollment to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage Plan if you’re at least 65 years old. If you’re not completely confident in this option, remember that you can still drop an Advantage Plan and switch to Original Medicare between January 1 and February 14 in 2011.
When you’re shopping for Medicare Advantage Plans, note that all the plans have different rules. Most restrict your choice of doctors and hospitals unless you require emergency or urgent care. Seeing a specialist also typically requires a referral. In exchange for these limits, Medicare Advantage Plans may offer low or $0 premiums in some areas. Learn more about the choices that are available to you on our Medicare Supplement insurance website.