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Picking the right Medicare plan

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Every year, to ensure continued competition on premiums and benefits among insurers, seniors have the opportunity to switch their current Medicare Part D prescription plan. This time is called "open enrollment." It is important to note Medicare beneficiaries satisfied with their current coverage do not have to take any action during the open enrollment period. However, it is strongly recommended all Medicare enrollees review their options to ensure the plan they are in remains the best plan to meet their needs.

"Open enrollment" for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program runs from October 15 to December 7, 2012. As with many government programs, maneuvering through all the conflicting information and red tape can be confusing and frustrating. It can be difficult for seniors to decide which plan is the best for them and their health needs.

I want to make sure all seniors have access to the best information. I invite seniors to attend my Senior Services Fair at the Grand Generation Center, 304 East 3rd Street in Grand Island on Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. (CT). At the fair, seniors and caregivers will be able to meet with and ask questions directly to Medicare experts. In order to find the plan which best meets their needs, attendees should bring a complete list of their prescriptions including dosing information.

Officials from the Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) will be on hand to consult individually with seniors to help them select the best plan for their needs. Experts also will be available to answer questions about Social Security and veterans benefits. Prescription drug information will be provided from licensed pharmacists, and free blood pressure screenings also will be available.

There are other ways to review and select a Medicare Part D plan for those unable to attend the Senior Services Fair. Visit: http://www.Medicare.gov to learn about different options, check your current enrollment, and apply for a plan. You also can call Medicare and speak to an expert directly by dialing 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

My staff and I are always here to help answer questions and connect Nebraskans with the right resources and information. Those needing assistance with Medicare coverage, or any other federal program, can call my office anytime.

Medicare is an essential program to millions of Americans, especially in rural areas with an aging population -- like the Third District of Nebraska. It is important for me not only to help today's seniors have the coverage they depend on, but also to ensure future generations have access to the benefits they paid for and have been promised.

Medicare Part D is evidence competition among providers can make Medicare as a whole more sustainable. Due to competition and price negotiation by participating insurers costs have come in 43 percent less than originally estimated. We can save Medicare without affecting benefits for today's seniors by reforming the program in the future with more choice, flexibility and competition.

It is important seniors know their options when it comes to Medicare. I hope the Senior Services Fair in Grand Island on October 18th, and the resources available through my office will help seniors across the Third District choose the right plan for them.

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