Department of Insurance Announces Open Enrollment for
Medicare Health and Prescription Drug Plans –
Many Medicare Advantage Plans Will Not Renew
Open enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries is November 15 - December 31, 2010. The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) staff at the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) is available to help Louisiana Medicare beneficiaries with their plan choices. Beneficiaries are encouraged to enroll or make changes to their present coverage by December 8, to ensure that they will be able to get their prescriptions on January 1, according to Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon.
During this enrollment period, Medicare beneficiaries will select their health plan and possibly their prescription drug plan. They will decide whether their 2011 Medicare health plan will be Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. Those choosing Original Medicare will also choose a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). Additionally, Original Medicare beneficiaries may choose a Medigap policy (Medicare Supplement coverage) that will cover medical co-pays, deductibles, and in-patient hospital fees. The Medicare Advantage plan, an all-inclusive plan that usually includes prescription drug coverage, is an alternate health plan choice to Original Medicare. Donelon urges citizens to review Medicare Advantage plan choices closely, since occasionally these plans may not include prescription drug coverage. In that case, a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan should be chosen, along with the Medicare Advantage Plan.
Plan costs and coverage will be changing in 2011 for over 20,000 Louisiana Medicare Advantage beneficiaries since a number of health care insurance companies are not renewing their contracts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This includes seven large to medium sized health insurance companies and 47 smaller ones. The greatest concentration of people affected are in St. Tammany Parish with 8,201 policies impacted. Parishes with the second and third largest concentrations of non-renewing Medicare Advantage policies are West Baton Rouge with 1,388 policies and Rapides with 1,226 policies.
The number of health care and prescription drug options available to Medicare beneficiaries will reduce as well. For example, in 2010 the statewide average number of Medicare Advantage plan choices per parish was 23 offered by a total of 10 companies; in 2011 the average number of Medicare Advantage plan choices per parish will be 10 offered by nine companies. In 2010 there were 22 companies offering 45 Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. In 2011 there will be 17 companies offering 32 Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.
“Choosing a health care plan and prescription drug plan are important decisions,” said Commissioner Donelon. This year, many Medicare recipients will choose new plans due to companies no longer providing coverage for Medicare and due to reduced options being available. Begin reviewing your options now to make choices that best meet your needs.” For assistance in reviewing your coverage options, contact a SHIIP counselor at 1-800-259-5300 or visit the Louisiana Department of Insurance Web site at www.ldi.la.gov or Medicare’s Web site at www.medicare.gov.