5 tips for 2011 Medicare enrollment

Expanded Medicare benefits
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Expanded Medicare benefits

In 2011, there are two big money-saving wins for Medicare beneficiaries.

First, original Medicare will now cover preventive services, including wellness visits. Second, the "doughnut hole" coverage gap -- the difference in the initial coverage limit and the catastrophic coverage threshold in Medicare Part D's prescription drug progam -- will begin closing. Once you hit that coverage gap, there's a 50 percent discount for brand-name drugs and 7 percent for generics. These discounts can save people thousands of dollars, says Rother.

"It all depends on how much you spend on drug costs," says Joe Baker, president of Medicare Rights Center, a nonprofit consumer service organization. "Usually, folks don't start hitting the doughnut hole until the springtime, though."

These added benefits might also save you money on enhanced Medicare Part D. "You might want to rethink the extra premium," Baker says. "

The exception is people with chronic illnesses. "Think ahead about what your coverage is in the doughnut hole," says Rother.




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