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Medicare open enrollment period is Oct. 17-Dec. 7

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Health insurance coverage is a top priority for many people.  Medicare is health insurance available for people over the age of 65 as well as those under the age of 65 with certain disabilities. 

The primary Parts of Medicare are A, B and D.  Part A is known as hospital coverage and assists with expenses for inpatient care and skilled nursing facility, hospice and home health care. Medicare Part B is general medical insurance which assists with expenses associated with doctors’ visits, outpatient hospital care and home health care.  Part B also covers some preventative medical services.  Part D is Medicare prescription drug coverage. You also have the option to enroll in the Medicare Advantage Plan, or Part C, which is offered by private companies approved by Medicare.  The advantage plan normally includes Parts A and B as well as additional benefits such as vision or dental insurance.  The majority of advantage plans will also include Part D. 

If you or a loved one currently receive Medicare benefits, it is important to know that Medicare health and prescription drug plan costs and coverage can change every year.  You should review your Medicare plan on a yearly basis to ensure that it meets both your medical and financial needs.  The fall open enrollment period for 2012 is October 15 through December 7.  It is important that you review the changes in Medicare for the new year prior to this time period so that you can compare available coverage options. Your new coverage will begin on January 1, 2012.  If you retain your same plan from 2011, new costs and coverage will also begin January 1, 2012.  There are also other enrollment periods in which you may be eligible to enroll; our local Social Security offices will be able to provide you with enrollment guidelines as well as additional information regarding Medicare coverage and benefits. You can learn additional information about comparing Medicare drug and health plans at www.medicare.gov.  Medicare.gov is a government resource which maintains up-to-date information regarding Medicare benefits.

References:  Medicare.gov, www.medicare.gov;
Medicare and You, 2011 Official U.S. Government Medicare Handbook, http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10050.pdf

Source: Jennifer Hunter, Extension Specialist for Family Finance, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.