News about Medicare, poverty guidelines and more

Time is running short

December 7 is the last day you can change your plan for the Medicare drug program Part D, unless you are also on Medicaid or new to Medicare or need financial help.

Some good news regarding Medicare costs

The good news is that the 2014 Medicare premium, for those whose annual income is under $85,001, will be the same $104.90 and the Part B deductible will be the same $147 as in 2013.

More about the insurance ‘Marketplace’

If you are on Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare, Indian Health Service you do not need to get any other insurance from the health care insurance “Marketplace.”

If you currently have health insurance that you may have had for years, and think that you want to keep it, as you have been told that you may keep it, you should read the fine print and see if your policy gives you all the benefits that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) says you are entitled to have. You may think that you should keep your current insurance because it is cheap but remember, “you get what you pay for.” What is the point of paying for insurance that does not give you the benefits that you think you are getting?

Does your old policy pay for most of your hospital costs, should you be unfortunate enough to be hospitalized due to an illness or an accident? Does your policy assure you benefits for the rest of your life without cutting you off when the insurance company says they have spent all they are going to spend on you? Will they pay if they find out that you have a preexisting condition? If you are a woman, is your insurance company charging you more than they do for a man? Under the ACA that will not happen.

Is your insurance paying for your children who are under the age of 26? Will your insurance pay for preventive health care services? Will your insurance give you a lower cost premium based on your income? That certainly will not happen unless you buy your insurance at the HealthCare Marketplace.

If you are low income, you should choose a Silver Plan, as that is the plan that will give you lower costs on your monthly premiums and/or your out-of-pocket costs. If you think that you may be eligible, the first thing you should do is go to and see what other benefits you might be eligible for.

I expect the website for the Marketplace will be up and running by the time you are reading this. But remember that you can get your new policy by calling the Medicare Health Care Marketplace at 1-800-318-2896.

There are many scammers out there who are just waiting to rip off unsuspecting seniors. Do not give money or your personal information to anyone who calls you or shows up at your door claiming to be from the Health Care Marketplace.

I am available to help you by phone or in my office. Please call for an appointment.

Rita Hatch volunteers for Older Persons Action Group’s Medicare Information and Referral program. Call her at 276-1059 in Anchorage or toll-free statewide at 1-800-478-1059. Her email address is

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