Medicare Open Enrollment Underway in Nevada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Medicare Open Enrollment Underway in Nevada

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Seniors like Ed Lapelusa of Reno, weren't too happy about today's announced Social Security raise. As he told us, “Oh that’s a big one, isn't it? Yeah, that was ridiculous. The average is what, $4 a month or something like that?" For him, the measly increase doesn't come close to covering the higher prices of groceries…and health care: "I think it's bogus. I mean, it's just not right."

On the other hand, Medicare is stepping up…expanding. Enrollment period just began last Saturday, October 15th, and for Nevada seniors, there are improved benefits. At Senior Care Plus, they just added hearing aid and vision coverage back into each Medicare Advantage plan. Manager CJ Bawden also told us, “One of the biggest things that our members told us is that they wanted to see lower doctor co-payments, so we were able to lower those, and then lower our specialist co-payments."

But Uncle Sam giveth, and Uncle Sam taketh away. Prescription drug prices went up over 6% this year, and they're forecast to go up another 6.5% next year. As CJ told us today, "We're faced with increased pharmaceutical prices all across the industry." Prices for four of the top 10 most prescribed medications have risen by more than 100% since 2011. “Tell me about it,” says Ed: "Something has to be done. We'll see what happens with this election, but they need to fix this."

Those rising costs affect a lot of seniors here in Nevada. For next year, you can choose between 23 Medicare prescription drug plans. 81% of people with Part D now have access to a plan with a lower premium than what they paid this year. And the lowest monthly premium for a prescription drug plan starts at $17. All these numbers are very personal for Ed. He and his wife together take four prescription drugs. As he told us, "I do tend to have high blood pressure so I take a blood pressure pill, but it’s a generic pill and the co-pay is very, very low." He says his Medicare Advantage plan through Senior Care Plus and the changes made for next year are “a good deal." As he put it, "The changes are very, very beneficial to all concerned."

Interested? Medicare open enrollment ends December 7th. If you're already in, look over your plan…shop around, especially if you don't like what you have. You might find a Medicare plan with lower premiums, or better coverage for 2017. Beneficiaries can now begin shopping and comparing plans, and check out the new Medicare health and drug plan Star ratings available now, by clicking the link below:

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