Medicare is stronger than ever

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Medicare open enrollment is Oct. 15 -Dec. 7.

(NewsUSA) – Medicare is stronger than ever, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, with more benefits, better choices and lower costs to beneficiaries.

Expanded Medicare benefits under the health care law — the Affordable Care Act — continue to be available. Whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan — take advantage of Open Enrollment (Oct. 15 to Dec. 7) to review cost, coverage or both for 2013.

• More Benefits: Certain preventive benefits — including cancer screenings — are available with no cost to patients when furnished by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit allows people to sit down and discuss with their doctor their health care needs and the best ways to stay healthy.

• Better Choices: Medicare will notify beneficiaries about plan performance and use its online Plan Finder to encourage enrollment in quality plans.

• Lower Costs: Average premiums for 2013 for prescription drug coverage and Medicare health plans will remain stable. People who are in the “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit will enjoy approximately 53 percent discounts on covered brand name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs.

Your health needs change from year to year. And, your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year too. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices regularly. Open Enrollment is the one time of year when all people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.

It’s worth it to take the time to review and compare. Medicare is available to help.

• Go to to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.

• Call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) 24 hours a day, seven days a week to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 877-486-2048.

• Review the Medicare & You 2013 handbook. It is mailed to people with Medicare in September.

• If you have limited income and resources, you may be able to get Extra Help paying your prescription drug coverage costs. For more information, go to or call Social Security at 800-772-1213. TTY users should call 800-325-0778. Get one-on-one help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Go to or call 800-MEDICARE to get the phone number.

This message was brought to you by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.