2014 Medicare open enrollment begins

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Starting Tuesday October 15, citizens can sign up for Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D, the government's prescription drug plan. This open enrollment period goes through December 7, and comes around each year.

It's not just for people new to Medicare. Officials with the Louisiana Department of Insurance say every current beneficiary should use this time to look at their part D plan, to see if it any changes are needed.

"Reevaluate their prescription drug plan every year, just like you do your home owners and your car insurance, it's very good. You can save money," said Senior Health Insurance Information Program Director Vicki Dufrene.

Premiums and deductibles change each year with the health care market, as does the list of medications covered under Medicare which is why it is important to review plans each year.

However, this year changing a Part D plan, will be mandatory for many Louisiana residents.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana recently told its customers that the company will no longer offer its Part D plan- RxBlue- at the end of the year.  According to the company, they alerted at least 13,000 RxBlue customers and provided alternate options on the company website.

"The company made this decision after carefully evaluating its existing plans, networks and benefits. To allocate resources most effectively, Blue Cross made the strategic business decision to discontinue offering RxBLUE beginning in 2014," said spokesperson John Maginnis in an email.

However, Dufrene says the absence of RXBlue does not mean Medicare beneficiaries will be without plans or options.  In fact, the Department of Insurance says 34 plans will be available for 2014 with varying premiums and deductibles.

"There should be a plan out there to meet everyone's needs if they are looking for a Medicare part D plan," said Dufrene.

For help or more information about Medicare Part D, you can contact the Louisiana Department of Insurance at (800) 259-5300.  You can also look at options on the following websites:

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.