Medicare Advantage plan changes arriving in the mail

Medicare background concept glowing

Seniors: keep an eye on your mailboxes this week. Medicare Advantage plans will be mailing required notices of how their benefits and costs will change in 2014.
Seniors can join, switch or drop health and drug plans for the coming year between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7. Before all that, plans must provide letters detailing any changes in coverage or cost by Sept. 30.

If you get one, be sure to review it and understand the changes made.
The Oregonian will publish its annual guide to the state’s largest Medicare Advantage plans on Oct. 13 (sooner online). Be sure to check last year’s Medicare Advantage column for tips on how to choose a plan.
The letters might include cost increases, but they could also include changes in what’s covered. One of your prescription drugs, for example, might no longer be covered, so be sure to check the plan formulary. For more information, visit

The Medicare Rights Center also offers some good tips. Call the center at 1-800-333-4114.

Volunteers around Oregon soon will offer workshops and schedule appointments to help seniors pick a plan. Contact your local Oregon Senior Health Insurance Benefit Assistance program office for schedules.

Aren’t on Medicare, so why bother? If you have a relative on Medicare, be sure to check in with them during this period, especially if they’ve had problems with their current plan. Picking a Medicare Advantage plan can be very time-consuming and complex, but the payoff in savings and appropriate coverage will be worth it for them.

Also, know that because of the early enrollment date, not all the information you need to make a decision is available today. Quality ratings might not be available on’s Plan Finder until Oct. 8. The state’s guide likely won’t be out in paper form until Nov. 15, though it might be available online in mid-October.