medicareAbout 50 million U.S. citizens use Medicare to cover a large part of their health care expenses, and one of the most important Medicare events is happening right now. Medicare’s Open Enrollment season to shop for better coverage for 2013 lasts until December 7, 2012. This is the time when you can make changes to your current Medicare benefits by switching to a Medicare Advantage plan or by adding a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to original Medicare coverage. Any change you make during this period will take effect on January 1, 2013. To help you make a decision, here are some of the changes in Medicare that will take effect next year.
Under the Affordable Care Act, two new Medicare-related tax changes will be implemented after December 31, 2012. One would increase the Medicare taxes of beneficiaries in the high-income bracket. It would affect single tax filers whose income exceeds $200,000 ($250,000 for couples filing jointly).
The new tax would hit high earners most because it would mean paying taxes for Medicare on both wages and investment capital gains. If you want to avoid this, take more capital gains before the law is implemented.
Additional Medicare Coverage
Next year, Medicare will cover more preventive care services such as counseling for alcohol misuse and counseling for heart disease. It will also offer screening for depression, as well as screening and counseling for people who have STIs (sexually transmitted infections). There will also be additional counseling help for people struggling with obesity.
If you reach the gap in coverage for medication known as the “donut” hole, discounts on generic and brand-name drugs will increase in 2013. For generic drugs, the previous 14 percent discount goes up to 21 percent. Since brand-name drugs cost so much more, they will see a 52.5 percent discount up from the old 50 percent.
These changes will ultimately affect your current Medicare coverage, so be sure to keep that in mind and take this once-a-year opportunity to look for better coverage before you have to spend more in 2013.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit