-- HealthDay staff
FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The open enrollment period
for seniors choosing their 2013 Medicare plan starts Monday, and
U.S. health officials say there are more high-quality health plans
to choose from this time around.
"In 2013, people with Medicare will have access to a wide range of plan choices, including more four- and five-star plans than ever before," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement released Friday.
This year, there will be 127 four- and five-star plans offered,
vs. 106 such plans offered last year. There will also be an
increase in four- and five-star prescription drug plans for seniors
on Medicare, with 26 offered in 2013 compared with 13 such plans in
2012, the statement noted.
During the open enrollment period, which ends Dec. 7, seniors
can use the star ratings system to guide them in choosing their
health and drug plan options, health officials said. Medicare plans
are given an overall rating on a one- to five-star scale, with five
stars being the highest rating.
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Medicare
can alert beneficiaries who have been enrolled in lower-quality
plans (three stars or fewer) and let them know how they can change
to a higher-rated plan, HHS officials added. Five-star plans are
also being rewarded by being allowed to recruit and enroll
beneficiaries throughout the year. In 2012, thousands of people
with Medicare joined a higher-rated plan, health officials
New benefits have also been added to Medicare because of the
Affordable Care Act. The Medicare prescription drug coverage gap,
also known as the "donut hole," is being phased out. Next year,
people with Medicare who reach the "donut hole" will receive about
53 percent off the cost of brand-name drugs and 21 percent off the
cost of generic drugs, the statement said.
For more on Medicare's health plan options, go to the U.S.
Health and Human Services.
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