NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2017

Medicare 2018 Fall Open Enrollment Resource for Journalists
Released by the Medicare Rights Center
–Deadline Extended for People Affected by Recent Hurricanes– 

New York, NY– Medicare Fall Open Enrollment occurs from October 15 to December 7 of every year and is the time of year when people with Medicare can make unrestricted changes to their coverage options. To assist the press in their Medicare coverage, the Medicare Rights Center has developed Fall Open Enrollment: a Resource for Journalists, which includes a list of upcoming changes, expert advice, and related issues of interest to people with Medicare. Also included are consumer-friendly resources that can be shared with readers.

The Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities, expects that journalists will find the resource helpful as they prepare coverage for this year’s Medicare enrollment season.

A few notable updates for 2018 include the following:

  • Medicare remains on solid financial footing. 

    Medicare Trustees predict that in 2018, the standard Medicare Part B premium will not increase and thus will remain at $134 per month. 

    According to the 2017 Medicare Trustees Report, the Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) Trust Fund is solvent through 2029—a year longer than previously predicted—and in 2016 the Trust Fund had a $5.4 billion surplus, with surpluses anticipated through 2022. Further, the Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B and Part D) Trust Fund remains on firm financial footing, and last year’s warning that 2017 growth would trigger the creation of an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) did not come to fruition.The Trustees note, however, that this stability is dependent on the assumption that the efficiencies and improvements made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) will be maintained.

  • Medicare Special Enrollment Period for those affected by recent hurricanes ends December 31, 2017. 

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced a Special Enrollment Period that gives people affected by recent hurricanes extra time to enroll, disenroll, or switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans. The Special Enrollment Period is in addition to the upcoming Medicare Fall Open Enrollment Period and begins on the date the individual was affected by the hurricane and ends on December 31, 2017. Individuals can call 1-800-MEDICARE to request enrollment during this period.

  • SHIP funding still at stake in 2018. 

    State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) provide unique one-on-one, in-person counseling to help people with Medicare understand their rights and navigate their coverage options. SHIPs are valuable because they provide unbiased, free, and personalized local assistance to older adults, people with disabilities, and families facing complicated Medicare decisions.In March, the White House proposed eliminating federal funding for the SHIPs. While such requests are not laws, they can serve as insight into the policies and priorities of an administration. The House Appropriations Committee followed the White House’s lead and also eliminated federal funding for the SHIP program.

    This moved the focus to the Senate where the Senate Appropriations Committee went another direction and has proposed that SHIPs receive the same funding as last year. The House and the Senate will have to come to an agreement over what funding the SHIPs should receive. As in past years, many advocates are reaching out to both houses of Congress to educate members on the importance and value of SHIPs for their constituents, and many members, both Democrats and Republicans, have spoken out about the need to preserve the program.

The complete Fall Open Enrollment: a Resource for Journalists is available on the Medicare Rights Center’s website.

Press Contact: Mitchell Clark – mclark@medicarerights.org

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

Available only through the Medicare Rights Center, Medicare Interactive (MI) is a free and independent online reference tool that provides easy-to-understand answers to questions posed by people with Medicare, their families and caregivers, and the professionals serving them. Find your Medicare answers at www.medicareinteractive.org.

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