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Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7

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Only a few days remain for Medicare enrollees to make choices about their health coverage for next year. Tuesday Dec. 7, is the last day of Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, when decisions can be made about health and prescription coverage for 2022.

During the annual open enrollment, persons enrolled in Medicare have a number of choices regarding their prescription coverage and health plan. They can change to a new plan, enroll for the first time, disenroll from coverage, or continue with their current plan (if it is still available).

Beneficiaries with non-Medicare coverage, such as SeniorCare, Veteran’s or employment-based plans, may also need to review their coverage for 2022 to see if it still meets their needs. Persons enrolled in Medicare do not need to enroll in health plans through the Marketplace, commonly known as “Obamacare.”

According to Shelley Matson, the Elder Benefit Specialist for Vernon County, there are more than 43 plan options available to county recipients. “This variety allows each person to customize their coverage to best fit both their health needs and their budget,” Matson said.

Medicare beneficiaries received a large booklet titled “Medicare and You 2022” this fall, which provided information on Medicare for next year. This booklet also included lists of the drug plans and health plans available. Each person also received a notice from their current plan in early October announcing the plan’s changes for 2022.

Additionally, the Social Security Administration has announced Social Security and SSI benefits will increase by 5.9% in 2022 – the largest increase in 40 years. Each recipient will be notified by mail in early December about their new benefit amount. Also, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that the standard premium for Medicare Part B will increase to $170.10 per month. Individuals with annual income exceeding $91,000 will pay higher amounts for their Part B, and Part D, premiums. This news of next year’s higher Social Security benefits and Medicare costs can be used to help individuals make decisions about their health and prescription needs for 2022.

For assistance with health care choices, contact Medicare 24 hours a day at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), including weekends. Medicare also provides a plan comparison tool and enrollment on their website at www.medicare.gov. To enroll in a plan, contact Medicare at their phone number or website, or contact the plan of choice at their phone number or website.

Although time is limited until the deadline of midnight on Dec. 7, assistance may also be available from each county’s Aging & Disability Resource Center. For Vernon County, call 608-637-5201 or 888-637-1323. Information on programs to assist with Medicare costs is also available from the ADRC.

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