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Medicare's Part D open enrollment begins October 15

Feather Publishing

Thousands in Plumas County affected, workshops planned

PASSAGES wants to remind Medicare beneficiaries that open enrollment to change or enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan known as Part D begins October 15 and ends December 7.  This is a date change from prior years.  During this open enrollment, people will also be able to make changes to their health care coverage, such as enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan.

There are several changes in plan availability for next year, the major one being that Anthem Blue Cross has not renewed their contract to offer their Regional Medicare Advantage plans called Freedom Blue I PPO and Freedom Blue Classic PPO.  According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that administers Medicare, there are 122 people in Plumas County who have one of these plans and will have to consider other coverage options for their healthcare and prescription drug coverage.

For 2012, there will be 33 Part D plans available, and 4 to 6 Medicare Advantage plans in the five-county service area of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Plumas and Tehama.  Some plans will not be available next year, and those remaining will change or there will be new ones offered. Premiums will range from $15.10 to $114.80 per month for prescription plans, and for Medicare Advantage plans premiums will vary from zero to $165 per month depending on the county in which they are offered.

Plans can begin their marketing on October 1, and people with Medicare will once again be deluged with information about changes and new offerings.  Before making any decisions, Tatiana Fassieux, Program Manager for the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP), warns that people should do their “homework.”  Signing up with the wrong plan, or not doing anything, may cost them thousands of dollars, and they may not be able to make further changes until October 15 of next year.

There are thousands of people with Medicare in Plumas County who will be affected by plan availability and premium changes.  Seniors and people with disabilities who have Medicare should watch for their Annual Notice of Change that will be coming in their mail.  This important document describes changes to their plan’s coverage and cost for 2012.  Some will be told that they have to pick a plan, or run the risk of losing Part D coverage.

To help those with Medicare understand the changes, HICAP is offering several Medicare workshops.  These free workshops are open to the public and are designed for people who are experiencing Open Enrollment for the first time or who may need a “refresher” on how to navigate through what is to some a very complicated task. Workshop Dates for Plumas County include:

10/18/2011 10:00-Noon Wildwood Senior Center, 366 Meadowbrook Loop, Chester

10/18/2011 2:00pm-4:00pm Quincy Library, 445 Jackson St., Quincy

10/19/2011 11:30pm-12:30pm Mohawk Sr. Nutrition, 8929 Hwy. 89, Blairsden

11/1/2011 11:00pm-12:00pm, Portola Memorial Hall, 449 W. Sierra, Portola

11/2/2011 11:00am-12:30pm, Greenville Nutrition Center, 152 Greenmeadows Ln, Greenville

Important questions that will be answered include:

What type of plan(s) should I have?

Do I understand my plan options?

What programs are available to reduce my Medicare health and prescription costs?


If a group or agency would like to host a workshop, please call Natasha Coulter-LaTorre, Outreach Specialist at 530-898-6715.  HICAP does not sell or endorse any insurance products.

PASSAGES helps older adults and family caregivers with important services to empower them to remain confident in their ability to sustain and enjoy independent lives.  For more information about PASSAGES services go to

~ Community Services For Quality Lives  ~

~  25 Main Street, Room 202, Chico CA  ~

~  Mailing Address:  PASSAGES HICAP, 400 West 1st Street, Chico, CA  95929-0799  ~

530-898-5923 ~ 800-822-0109

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