KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Tuesday

Beneficiaries are encouraged to take a close look at their options during their upcoming enrollment period, which is separate from the sign-up in the health law's marketplaces.

The Wall Street Journal: It's Time For Medicare Open Enrollment
Medicare's annual open-enrollment period starts Tuesday, and this year beneficiaries need to take a particularly close look at their options, many of which have been tweaked. ... Overall, premiums for Advantage plans, the private-insurer version of Medicare coverage, are projected to go up next year—by 5%, or $1.64, on average, to $32.60 a month, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that runs Medicare. For drug plans, the average basic-plan premium will be $31, which it said was about the same as this year. But analysts say that the steady average masks a lot of tweaks that insurers are making to Advantage plans in response to cutbacks in payments from the federal government—including that at least a few plans' premiums will go up sharply (Mathews, 10/13).

The Oregonian: Medicare 2013: How Health Reform Lurks Behind The Scenes Of Your Plan
With all the talk about health reform, some seniors – worried about changes to Medicare – have understandably wanted to take some sort of pill. Let's put you at ease right up front. The new health exchange has nothing to do with the open enrollment period that comes along every year at this time for Medicare managed care and drug plans. You don't need to visit Cover Oregon to enroll for or switch Medicare plans. You can do that, as usual, until Dec. 7 through, insurer or broker (Hunsberger, 10/12).

Meanwhile, The Fiscal Times offers a list of considerations for workplace open enrollment season, too.  

The Fiscal Times: 10 Ways Your Health Benefits at Work May Change
Despite all the attention the public Obamacare exchanges have been getting, the vast majority of Americans will still sign up for health insurance this year the way they always have: by using the open enrollment process at work this fall. While many of the plans and benefits for workers will be similar to those in the past, continued corporate efforts to rein in health care costs and other trends in corporate benefits mean there may be some changes. Here's a guide to 10 changes you may see to your health and other workplace benefits this year (Braverman, 10/14).

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