Medicare is constantly changing and keeping up with what’s new will help you get the most from Medicare.
There are several changes that have occurred for 2012. Here are some of the highlights:
 Between January 1–February 14, if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can leave your plan and switch to Original Medicare. If you switch to Original Medicare during this period, you will have until February 14 to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after the plan gets your enrollment form.
 Medicare plans are rated for quality by a 5-star rating with 1 star being the lowest and 5 stars the highest. Between December 8, 2011 and November 30, 2012, if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription plan you can join or switch to a plan that has a 5-STAR rating IF ONE IS AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA. This can be done only one time during the year.

o NOTE: if you take this opportunity and enroll in a 5-star Medicare Advantage plan that does not provide prescription benefits you will not be able to enroll in a Part D (prescription) plan and you will not have prescription drug benefits until open enrollment which is from October 15 to December 7 2012. So choose wisely!!

o There are not 5-star plans available in many areas of the country. Check the Plan Finder Tool on the www.Medicare.gov website to see if any are available in your area.

 The Donut Hole (the Part D coverage gap) continues to slowly close , one of the positive benefits from the Affordable Care Act passed in March 2010. In 2012 you will continue to pay only 50% of the cost for brand named drugs and your discount for generic drugs will double to 14%. Both discounts will gradually increase until beneficiaries pay just 25% of their drug costs in 2020.
 Medicare now covers screening and counseling for alcohol misuse, depression, and obesity
I you are confused about Medicare there are experts you can speak to. Look for your state’s Department of Aging, or call a Health Care Advocate!