Change is often a concern for consumers, particularly when it comes to the cost and coverage of medical insurance programs. For individuals who take part in government-sponsored programs such as Medicare, cost increases can be particularly worrisome, especially for those on a fixed income.
The challenge is that in an increasingly difficult fiscal environment, cost increases and coverage decreases may be inevitable for many participants. Therefore, changes for Medicare 2012 are closely scrutinized by a wide variety of individuals and constituent groups. Here are a few changes of note for Medicare 2012.
Changes in open enrollment. In order to sign up for Medicare, consumers must enroll during the designated open enrollment period. This is similar to the rules of private insurance that is offered by employers. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the enrollment dates for 2012 were changed to allow more time for consumers to enroll in the program. Open enrollment was scheduled for Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2011.
Slight increase in drug costs. One major cost concern with Medicare is prescription medication. Some Medicare users can take prescriptions that are extremely costly and would be generally unaffordable without fixed costs from Medicare. According to AARP, prescription costs will stay approximately the same in 2012. There will be a small, but not drastic increase. In addition, a number of popular drugs will now have generic equivalents, which will further lower costs for many consumers.
An election issue of note. While Medicare may be mostly unchanged for 2012, it is quite possible that there will be changes in the future. Analysts are projecting that Medicare may be a key election issue in 2012. The word reform makes many individuals and groups nervous, which is why there may be a hard-fought battle over Medicare changes beyond 2012.