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Medicare: What You Need to Know This Year


Navigating Medicare enrollment is never simple. And for some of us, that means we throw up our hands and don’t shop around: Research by the National Council on Aging found that nearly half of Medicare recipients have never shopped around for better coverage.

But experts say that you can save a lot of money by comparing Medicare plans.  “There’s no doubt that a lot of seniors are in the wrong plan,” says Ross Blair, the CEO of, a site that compares Medicare plans.  “A lot of them could save hundreds of dollars a year by switching.”  Some great resources to help you start comparing Medicare plaarison tool and rating system;, which gives you access to local counselors to help guide you through Medicare choices;, which provides local referrals and information.

You should also be aware of two changes to Medicare enrollment this year:

  • Medicare enrollment starts earlier and ends earlier. As of October 15, eligible recipients can begin joining a new Medicare plan or change from the one they’re currently in, but you can only enroll through December 7th this year. (Last year, the enrollment period ran from mid-November through the end of the year.)
  • There’s year-around enrollment for some. There is one major exception to this enrollment period:  You can switch to a five-star Medicare plan (these are the highest rated plans) at any point this year beginning on December 8th and going through November 30, 2012.  But don’t wait to enroll – not everyone will have access to a five-star plan.


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    • Medicare insurance open enrollment season runs from Oct 15 to Dec. 7. During that time, millions of seniors nationwide will have the opportunity to make unrestricted modifications to their health coverage for 2013.

    • Eligibility for Medicare Plans Seems most Americans understand Medicare coverage starts at age 65. We think of the 65th birthday
      almost as if it’s a rite of passage. The 65th birthday marks eligibility for medicare plans for almost all Americans but there are exceptions. All US citizens become eligible for Medicare enrollment at age 65. A legal resident, someone who has lived in the US for five years or more, also becomes eligible at age 65, as long as the enrollee or his / her spouse paid into the Medicare system by way of payroll tax deductions for ten years or more. Under certain circumstances, Medicare plans cover people younger than 65 but their enrollment is based on medical need, not age. Almost all recipients of Medicare benefits who are younger than 65 are also receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Some people getting disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board can also become eligible for Medicare coverage before age 65. As with
      the SSDI, disabled railroad workers must be on disability 24 months or longer before their eligibility for Medicare plans begins. People in need of kidney transplants often qualify for coverage under Medicare plans, regardless of age. Patients requiring a continuous regimen of dialis due to end state renal disease are often eligible, too. Patients diagnosed with amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) are usually eligible for Medicare benefits at any age, as long as they are also eligible for SSDI coverage. Insituations of hard

    • The new healthcare reform law is reshaping certain parts of the Medicare marketplace, for the most part in ways that benefit seniors may find this information useful and it may help out aging parents with their money matters.

    • Great article and you can find more like this at Retirement information updated daily.

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.