Medicare open enrollment underway

first_imgThis year’s open enrollment brings good news for Medicare beneficiaries in Clark County: no major changes to advantage plans or premium prices.Still, Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors, or SHIBA, recommends everyone on Medicare review their health plans during open enrollment, even if they’re happy with their current coverage.Open enrollment began Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.“We call this our annual checkup,” said Gayle Mitchell, the program coordinator for SHIBA Vancouver.In Clark County, most beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans, rather than traditional Medicare, Mitchell said. Local seniors can choose from 25 advantage plans offered by seven organizations. Those are the same plans currently offered; none were dropped, Mitchell said. And none of organizations made significant changes to their plans’ rates or deductibles. Most increased monthly premiums by a dollar or two, she said.The same will likely be true for folks with Medicare Part B plans, Mitchell said, although those rates aren’t yet available.“Generally, you’ll come out paying a little more,” she said.In Skamania County, however, the one Medicare Advantage Plan available to seniors — a Regence BlueCross BlueShield plan — will no longer be available in 2017, Mitchell said. Beneficiaries there will revert to traditional Medicare plans and will need to add a drug plan. They may also want to add a supplemental plan, she said.“That’s happened a lot in the rural, smaller counties,” Mitchell said. “This was the year for Skamania to get hit.”Provider changesEven though Clark County plans aren’t changing dramatically, that doesn’t mean individual medical providers haven’t changed their contracts with plans. Mitchell, for example, learned recently that her physician will no longer accept her plan, which means she needs to decide whether to find a new plan or a new doctor.That’s why SHIBA recommends everyone take time to review their plans. Check to make sure your providers are still accepting your health plan and review your plan’s drug formulary to ensure pricey medications will be covered.last_img read more