Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period, which allows enrollees to choose their health and drug coverage for 2016, started on Oct. 15. All enrollment choices for next year must be made by Dec. 7.
Some current beneficiaries will need to choose new plans for 2016 as a number of Medicare Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans have announced that they will be shutting down effective Dec. 31. All beneficiaries impacted by these plan terminations were sent a mailing by their plan in late September or early October. If they fail to choose a new plan for 2016, they may risk having little or no coverage.
One Medicare Advantage plan company-UCare for Seniors- currently offers plans in 26 counties in the western half of Wisconsin, but will terminate all plans as of Dec. 31.
In every county in Wisconsin, there are four Medicare Part D prescription plans that will end as of Dec. 31: Aetna Medicare Rx Premier, Cigna-Healthspring Rx Secure-Max, TransAmerica Medicare Rx Choice, and SmartD Rx Basic.
In Vernon County, a total of approximately 300 persons are enrolled in these six terminating plans.
For assistance in reviewing options for 2016 drug and health coverage, contact the Aging & Disability Resource Center serving each Wisconsin county. For Vernon County, the phone numbers for an appointment are 608-637-5397 or 1-800-500-3910.
Other resources for help understanding plan options include contacting Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 (available 24 hours/day) or on their website at www.medicare.gov. Another resource is the Wisconsin Medigap Helpline at 1-800-242-1060. Also there are two government funded, impartial prescription helplines for Wisconsin residents. Call either the Wisconsin Medicare Prescription Helpline at 1-855-677-2783 for persons age 60 and over, or the Disability Drug Benefit Helpline at 1-800-926-4862 for those under age 60.
All of these resources also have information on assistance programs to help with Medicare costs, such as Part D plan costs and Part B premiums.