Consumer Reports offers free guide to Medicare changes, including new benefits

Posted May 20, 2011, at 12:39 p.m.

For people who are enrolled in Medicare, there are important changes to consider since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law last year.

Consumer Reports now has a free guide to explain the changes and new benefits in Medicare. Free copies of “Medicare: 6 Things You Need to Know Now” are available for a limited time by calling toll-free 1-855-CR-GUIDE or visiting the web site ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

To order or download a free copy of the Consumer Reports guide online, click here.

“This guide will help people navigate the changes in Medicare and take full advantage of new services available under the law,” said Jim Guest, President of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.  “Whether you have Medicare, are about to be eligible, or have a loved one in the program, the guide helps you sort through what’s new in today’s system.  With new benefits such as drug discounts and free health screenings available, this guide explains how you can make the most of them.”

The 15-page guide provides easy-to-understand information about changes in Medicare:

  1. If you have Medicare and struggle with the cost of prescription drugs, the guide explains the sizable drug discounts now available when you reach the gap in Medicare drug plans known as the “doughnut hole.”
  2. For those who have skipped preventive-care visits to the doctor because they could not afford them, the guide describes the free and low-cost coverage options for certain preventive services, such as annual wellness visits, mammograms and prostate cancer screenings, and flu shots.
  3. The guide explains the changes in Medicare Advantage plans, such as new limits on your annual out-of-pocket costs.
  4. If you have relatively high income, the guide takes you through important changes in what you pay.
  5. Beginning this year, the open enrollment period for changing Medicare plans is starting and ending earlier, and the guide helps you check the new dates and understand your options.
  6. If you are about to turn 65, you can find out what you need to know before signing up for Medicare.
  7. The back of the guide offers an in-depth resource section with contact information for key agencies that can answer your specific questions about Medicare, including toll-free numbers for help in every state.

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