Legislation Improves Access to Medicare
Many people are misinformed about when they should enroll in Medicare. The Medicare Rights Center receives calls almost daily from consumers, as well as insurers and employers, who are confused by the current enrollment rules. Older Americans and people with disabilities who have mistakenly declined Medicare Part B as a result of innocent errors or misinformation may sometimes find themselves with no health coverage at all. Some have to wait months to over a year before they have coverage.
New legislation, The Medicare Enrollment Protection Act of 2010 (H.R. 5588), establishes additional Medicare Part B enrollment periods, which allow individuals to enroll in Medicare without delay. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Kurt Schrader, Democrat of Oregon, on Wednesday June 23.
Read more about the Medicare Enrollment Protection Act of 2010.
Enrollment in Medicare Private Plans Is Up
This week, the Kaiser Family Foundation released data on enrollment trends in Medicare private health plans (commonly known as Medicare Advantage plans). According to Kaiserís analysis, in most states, a small number of insurers cover a majority of enrollees. Currently, 11.1 million Medicare consumers are enrolled in private plans for 2010, which is an increase of over half a million from 2009 even though the number of MA plans decreased during that time.
Read Kaiserís data analysis.
The Medicare Rights Center released a report last week on why consumers disenroll from Medicare private health plans. The report found that the most common reasons for disenrollment are: problems accessing providers, misinformation and marketing abuse, and coverage denials for medical services.
Read the Medicare Rights report.
I am over 65 and still employed. I receive health insurance from the company I work for; do I need to take Part B?
— Jacob (Des Moines, IA)
To decide whether to take Part B (medical insurance), you should ask your benefits manager or human resources department how your employer insurance works with Medicare and confirm this information with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Medicare. Be aware that when you qualify for Medicare, your employer insurance may start to work differently for you. You will need to figure out whether paying for both types of coverage will be useful in offsetting your health care costs.
As a first step, assess whether your employer insurance will be "primary" or "secondary" to Medicare.
Visit www.medicareinteractive.org to learn more.
The excerpt above is adapted from Dear Marci, our weekly newsletter for consumers. Sign up for Dear Marci.
Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released regulations on a new Patientís Bill of Rights, which was made possible by health reform and aims to protect consumersí access to health insurance.
At a White House event on Tuesday, June 22, President Obama made remarks on the Bill of Rights. Medicare Rights President Joe Baker attended the event.
Read a fact sheet on the Bill of Rights.
Read Joe Bakerís statement.