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MEDICARE NEWS Open Enrollment Ends Tomorrow – Alaska Medicare beneficiaries in coverage gap saving $1,151,526 this year as time to select 2012 plans draws to a close

50 percent discounts in donut hole, free preventive care ease strain on seniors’ pocketbooks  thanks to health care law

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that as of the end of October, more seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare have seen significantly lower costs for important health care – through both discounts on brand-name drugs in the Medicare Part D "donut hole" coverage gap and free preventive care.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans are receiving free preventive services and getting cheaper prescription drugs,” said Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “The open enrollment period ends tomorrow.  People with Medicare should review their current plans before midnight December 7, so they can make sure that the plan they will have in 2012 is the best one for their health care needs.”

Data show that 2.65 million people with Medicare have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions – averaging about $569 per person.  In Alaska, 1,754 people with Medicare have saved $1,151,526 – averaging about $657 per person.

And, as of the end of November, more than 24.2 million people with Medicare have taken advantage of at least one free preventive benefit – including the new Annual Wellness Visit – made possible by the Affordable Care Act.  In Alaska, 35,584 people with Medicare have taken advantage of the free preventive coverage.

Building on savings in 2011, Medicare also recently announced that the Part B deductible will be $22 lower in 2012 and average Medicare Advantage premiums are projected to drop four percent in 2012.  Part B premiums, which cover outpatient services including doctor visits, are estimated to increase by only $3.50 per month for most beneficiaries in 2012, and some will see a decrease.  These changes will be more than offset by the average Social Security cost of living increase ($43 per month for retired workers).

People with Medicare can now review their drug and health plan coverage options for 2012 as part of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period.  CMS is highlighting plans that have achieved an overall quality rating of five stars with a high performer or “gold star” icon on Medicare’s Plan Finder – www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.

For more information about how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time, go to http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11493.pdf

For State-by-State information on the number of people who are benefiting from discounts in the donut hole in 2011, go to https://www.cms.gov/Plan-Payment/

For State-by-State information on utilization of free preventive services and the Annual Wellness Visit, go to http://www.cms.gov/NewMedia/02_preventive.asp

For more information on Medicare’s prevention benefits, go to the Share the News. Share the Health! website: http://www.medicare.gov/share-the-health/or contact 1-800-MEDICARE.

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