If you will be Medicare eligible this year, you know two things

If you will be Medicare eligible this year, you know two things:  First: It’s time to start! Medicare’s open-enrollment program began November 15th. Second: There are many differences from last year, and your options can be rather confusing.

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal’s Personal finance section tries to round up some of the new rules from the overhaul, and how they differ between Traditional and Advantage Medicare plans.

Traditional Plans will see an increase in coverage extending out to preventative services – including mammograms, Pap tests, and screenings for prostate or colorectal cancer – as well as the closing of the so-called “doughnut hole” that previously cut out 14% of Part D participants. With these changes, some who had taken Advantage Plans may reconsider the Traditional Plans. Unfortunately, if you fall into a higher income bracket of $85,000 annually (or $170,000 as a couple), you also can expect higher premiums for Part D (i.e., somewhere between $2 and $69.10).

Advantage Plans (a better option for those in high-income brackets) also has been streamlined and improved. In fact, 16% of Advantage Plans have been eliminated due to overlap, making choices easier. Importantly, Advantage Plans also feature caps at $6,700 on annual out-of-pocket expenditures, giving greater protections to participants. Some co-payments also have been brought in line with traditional Medicare levels (e.g., like those for chemotherapy), while co-payments are generally higher in Advantage Plans.

One of the best ways to see all the changes and how they affect you is to visit the Medicare website, and to use their Medicare Plan Finder.

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