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Medicare Guide: Deadlines, Changes

Florida has plenty of choices when it comes to Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug coverage from private companies -- in fact, more than most places in the nation and more than some beneficiaries can cope with, as the Orlando Sentinelreports, citing Kaiser Family Foundation research.

Kaiser research also shows most people will stay with their current Part D prescription drug coverage, even though they might save money by switching. About 3.5 million Floridians are insured through Medicare, and about a third of them are signed up for HMO-style Medicare Advantage plans.

The annual open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries runs through Dec. 7. The Orlando Sentinelhas a guide to help beneficiaries in that area pick the plan that’s best for them.

The Tampa Bay Times offers a similar guide for its own greater metro area.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel details some changes that Medicare beneficiaries should pay attention to: you’ll enter and exit the so-called “doughnut hole” more quickly. The maximum deductible -- the amount you must spend before the plan kicks in -- is dropping from $325 to $310 for prescription drug coverage. Also, Medicare plans will be required to spend 85 percent of the money they collect in premiums on benefits, limiting what they can spend on marketing and administration.  

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.