Thursday, October 24, 2013
Well, not really, but the title did get your attention didn't it? It is that time of the year though--the Medicare open enrollment time of the year. The time when the newspapers are running page-length advertisements for various Medicare Advantage and drug plans and there are a fair number of articles about Medicare. I'm not sure my students read print newspapers anymore, and may not have time to read the on-line versions either. But I tell them to take a look for these ads, so they get a sense of the Medicare "cycle" if you will. We know, in addition to open enrollment, CMS also releases the next year's dollar figures for original Medicare as well as the Part D stand-alone plans.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (one of my favorite go-to sites for information on health care) released an October 2013 issue brief by Jack Hoadley, Juliette Cubanski, Elizabeth Hargrave and Laura Summer on Medicare Part D: A First Look at Plan Offerings in 2014. The report has a lot of good detail, statistics and charts. The key findings from the report are a quick and useful way to integrate current data into our course materials. Kaiser released another October 2013 brief by the same authors, along with Patricia Neumann, titled To Switch or Not to Switch: Are Medicare Beneficiaries Switching Drug Plans To Save Money?
The Medicare site for beneficiaries, Medicare.gov has some interactive features for beneficiaries looking to learn more about their current coverage and options in their geographic areas. I like to show my students the interactive features and have them search for plans in their area and compare them, so they have a good idea what issues beneficiaries face in making informed decisions.
So, let's just remind ourselves that we have another 6 weeks or so of the ads for the different plans, and by then, it will be another one of our favorite times of the year...