Carmel, CA It's Time To Pick Your Medicare Supplemental Insurance Program : The Deadline Is December 7by Richard Kuehn on 10/21/12
It's that time of the year again. The open enrollment period has opened and seniors must go through a bevy of options to determine the best Medicare Supplemental Insurance plan and sign up for it on time. In addition to price, you should also take a look at the quality of the healthcare providers which are covered and make sure your primary physician accepts the coverage. The biggest thing to pay attention to is to make sure you have good coverage locally, and that you pay attention to quality ratings. The percentage of healthcare HMOs and PPOs rated 4 stars or more by Medicare rose from 28% to 37% in the last year. That's great news. Don't settle for anything less than 4 or 5 stars. Supplemental insurance for prescription plans also improved in quality, but they remain low. The number ranked 4 stars or higher doubled over the past year to 18% but remains at less than half the level of medical plans with 4 stars or more. The rankings are based on a number of things, including patient satisfaction surveys, availability of screenings and vaccines, and the plan's ability to manage chronic conditions over the past year. "We have confidence that these plans best serve beneficiaries and focus on the health needs of their enrollees," Medicare director Jonathan Blum told a reporter. Open enrollment ends at Midnight on December 7. Even if you are happy with your current provider, it doesn't hurt to shop around. Many insurers sent out change notices which raised premiums, deductibles and even stopped coverage of some drugs. So don't assume that what you had last year is in effect this year. Many people throw away the notices, assuming that they are junk mail. You've got plenty of time to look at your options, but don't let this December 7 deadline come and go. A study published this month in the Health Affairs Journal said that only 5% of seniors who opted into a supplemental Medicare drug program chose the most cost effective plan. They spent $368/year, on average, more than they needed to.