Medicare Open Season for Seniors
WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan today advised Suncoast seniors to take advantage of Medicare’s annual open enrollment period before it closes on Dec. 7. Those on Medicare should review their coverage to make the best decision for their health needs because some plans and benefits may change in the upcoming year, Buchanan said.
The Congressman represents Sarasota and Manatee counties, home to nearly 220,000 Medicare recipients.
“Medicare is one of the government’s most successful programs and I hope Florida’s seniors will use this period to find the best plan that fits their healthcare needs,” Buchanan said. “Don’t let anything catch you off guard next year. Re-evaluating and comparing different Medicare plans could help bring down your out-of-pocket costs.”
There are more than 55.5 million Medicare beneficiaries across the country, which accounts for 17 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Florida ranks second in the country only to California for the highest number of Medicare beneficiaries.
The annual open enrollment period – which started Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7 – is the only time those enrolled in Medicare can change their health and prescription drug plans, or can enroll as new beneficiaries. These changes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
Buchanan, a strong advocate for Medicare, said he is hopeful Congress will put forward a bipartisan plan in 2017 that protects and preserves Medicare for future generations. The Congressman is the only Floridian to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee and its Subcommittee on Health, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and employer-provided health insurance benefits.
“Strengthening Medicare should be a top priority for both parties,” Buchanan said. “Seniors have worked their whole lives with the promise of a safe retirement and need to know that Medicare will be there for them during their golden years.”
Seniors may sign up or update their plans in two ways:
- Phone: Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Seniors should have their Medicare card, a list of drugs they use and the name of their pharmacy on hand to get immediate help in choosing a plan.
- Online: Go to Medicare.gov to review prescription drug coverage options.
More details on Medicare Open Enrollment are available online in the U.S. Government Medicare handbook.