Medicare Open Enrollment: More is better

By Jonathan Blum, Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare

In this season of Open Enrollment, people with Medicare have the opportunity to choose the Medicare plan that best serves their unique health needs and provides them with the greatest value. In determining the value of a plan choice, you should look not only at premiums and cost-sharing but also at what benefits and quality of care that money will buy. This year, I am proud to say that while costs, by and large, have remained relatively stable, the benefits that people with Medicare will get for their premiums continues to grow.

For those choosing Original Medicare, the benefit package continues to grow stronger and provide greater value. For example, EVERYONE with Medicare has access to a variety of preventive services and screenings, most at no cost to them when furnished by qualified and participating health care professionals. This includes things like diabetes and cancer screenings, and a yearly “wellness” visit. During the first 9 months of this year, over 20 million people with Original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost.

Beneficiaries may also explore their options beyond Original Medicare, as virtually all people with Medicare have access to Medicare Advantage Plans in 2013, and many of these plans offer extra benefits beyond the comprehensive package offered by Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may offer vision, hearing, or dental coverage, or extend coverage while you travel. And most Medicare Advantage Plans also include prescription drug coverage.

Use this time to decide what benefits are most important in helping you meet your unique health care needs. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area for what will provide you with the greatest value. If you still need help comparing, call 1 800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Only you know what extra benefits and services are most important for you. Just know that no matter how you choose to get your Medicare benefits, you’ll be getting more.

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