October 5, 2007, Newsletter Issue #96: Don't Wait To Sign Up For Medicare Part D

Tip of the Week

If you are receiving benefits from Medicare Part A or B, you are eligible for Medicare Part D. Medicare part D is optional and provides beneficiaries with assistance paying for prescription drugs. Open enrollment is held from Nov. 15 – Dec. 31 annually and it is when you can select or change your plan. Once people choose a plan they will not be able to change until the next enrollment period except in special situations.
Unfortunately, if you opt not to enroll in Part D when they are first eligible, you will have to pay a higher premium if you decide to join later on. This penalty will be about 1% of the monthly premium. People who sign up late will have to pay this penalty unless Medicare decides they had drug coverage that was as good as Medicare’s during the time they were not enrolled in Part D. This is known as “creditable” coverage.
Hospital Visits: ER, inpatient, Rehab
Many will argue that spending on hospital care is the fastest-growing segment of the nation's health care tab. On one hand, critics say hospitals are unfairly using their growing clout in many markets and charging far more than it costs to provide services. On the other hand, hospitals are saying that they are only trying to counter rising labor and equipment costs, while faced with insufficient payments from government and private insurers. Some where does this put the consumer? Hospitals are now demanding bigger payments by telling insurers to pay up or they will stop accepting their patients, thus if we are smart consumers, we may find ourselves falling victim to a high medical bill; thinking our insurance is paying for the bill, when it really is not. The next few tips will help you avoid that surprise.

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