Seniors mull Medicare choices

    Seniors across the region are weighing their health care needs and sifting through Medicare options. Their choices this year include fewer Medicare Advantage plans, as several insurers drop out of the program. More than 36,000 people across the Philadelphia region have to select a new health plan by the end of the year.

    Seniors across the region are weighing their health care needs and sifting through Medicare options. Their choices this year include fewer Medicare Advantage plans, as several insurers drop out of the program. More than 36,000 people across the Philadelphia region have to select a new health plan by the end of the year.

    Listen:

    [audio:091117temedicare.mp3]

    Many Medicare enrollees choose an Advantage plan to enjoy expanded benefits and low out-of-pocket costs. But seniors are complaining that the new options are limited and pricey.

    Christine McBennett directs the insurance-advice program for Philadelphia’s Commission on Services to the Aging. She says co-payment prices are rising.

    McBennett: It seems to be going up between five and 15 dollars per visit, depending on whether you are going to see your primary care physician or a specialist. And some of the monthly premiums have gone up anywhere between 10 and 100 dollars per month. Nothing is getting less expensive next year.

    Medicare administrators are urging seniors to choose a new plan to ensure that they’ll get a prescription drug plan that covers the medicines they need. Seniors who don’t actively select a plan could be left without drug coverage.

    So, McBennett says: choose carefully.

    McBennett: Different plans cover different drugs at different costs and different monthly premiums, so it’s in the individuals best interest to proactively chose a plan by researching which plans they would be best suited for.

    Nancy O’Connor is a Medicare administrator.

    O’Connor: If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan and you opt to do nothing, you will go back into the original Medicare plan for your health coverage. However, if you had drug coverage, you need to pick up a stand alone prescription drug plan.

    December 31st is the deadline to select a new Medicare plan.

    The Medicare Web site has a drug-plan finder to guide seniors.

    More info:?

    The Mayor’s Commission on Services to the Aging?: 215-686-8462?

    Albert Einstein Medical Center’s Premier Years Program: 215-456-7600

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