Medicare Open Enrollment Does Not Include New Health Insurance Exchanges, Says Attorney With The Hale Law Firm
Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) November 15, 2013 - The open enrollment period for Medicare has begun, when beneficiaries can sign up for private health plans.
However, this should not be confused with the new health insurance exchanges that also began operations recently. John D. Hale, a prominent Dallas elder law attorney, explains the difference.
“During the open enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7, Medicare beneficiaries may sign up for Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans,” said Hale. “The health insurance exchanges, by contrast, are for people who do not have health insurance, through Medicare or otherwise.”
Hale said there was potential for confusion, because the open enrollment period for Medicare overlaps with the enrollment period for the health insurance exchanges, which is from October 1 through March 31. To add to the confusion, many health insurance companies have used terms such as “silver,” “gold” or “platinum” for products they make available to Medicare beneficiaries, and now, such terms are also being used for different health insurance packages available on the exchanges.
One insurer, SummaCare, has changed the names of its Medicare Advantage plans from silver and gold to sapphire and emerald, to help reduce confusion.
People on Medicare should make sure they are reviewing Medicare plans, not marketplace options. Medicare is not part of the marketplace, and Medicare beneficiaries can safely ignore the new health insurance exchanges. In fact, they generally cannot use them. Insurance companies are not permitted to sell policies that duplicate Medicare benefits to Medicare beneficiaries.
What people on Medicare can do during the open enrollment period is shop around for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and all-in-one Medicare Advantage plans. This may be a good idea if a beneficiary's health or medication has changed. Many Part D plans have increased co-payments or premiums, or changed the pricing tiers for medications. Medicare beneficiaries can shop for a new plan or see what their options are by using the Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov.
“The open enrollment plan is a good time for Medicare beneficiaries to shop around,” said Hale. “Just remember that there is no need to worry about the new health insurance exchanges.”
The Hale Law Firm
100 Executive Court, Suite 3
Waxahachie, TX 75165
The Hale Law Firm
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Dallas, TX 75206
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