4) Medicare Advantage health plans are now required to have annual out-of-pocket maximums and other consumer protections. In the event you need an expensive treatment, you’ll be protected from exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. For many Advantage plans, out-of-pocket expenses (excluding premiums and prescription costs) will be capped by law at $6,700 in 2011. Some plans have voluntarily set lower maximums. In addition, if you’re in a private health plan, you can no longer be charged more for some services (like chemotherapy) than if you were in Original Medicare.
But there are several exceptions.
6) There are new times to switch your coverage.
In 2011, you’ll have more time to choose and join a private health or drug plan when the annual open enrollment period gets an earlier start than usual in the fall.
In past years, it has run from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. This year, it will kick off on Oct. 15 and wrap up Dec. 7. As always, your new coverage will take effect Jan. 1.
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