Health Net, Inc. reminds seniors, age 65 or older, and others who are eligible for Medicare that the Medicare Open Enrollment period closes on Wed., Mar. 31, 2010.

If Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan beneficiaries are not satisfied with the choice they made in November or December of last year during the Annual Election Period, they have one last chance to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan for 2010. This opportunity allows seniors and other Medicare-eligible individuals to ensure their coverage truly meets their needs.

"With the March 31 deadline drawing near, Medicare beneficiaries should consider whether their current plan really meets their needs," said Scott R. Kelly, chief Government Programs officer, Health Net, Inc. "In reviewing their options, the most important factors they should consider are the 4 Cs - Cost, Customer Service, Convenience and Coverage."

The 4 Cs

1. One fact individuals should consider when reviewing their options is the cost of monthly plan premiums, deductibles and copayments.

2. Consumers should also look at customer service. Are the people at the plan helpful? Do they understand your personal needs?

3. Then think about convenience. If their plan does not have an agreement with their favorite pharmacy, consumers will spend time traveling to different drugstores. If a Medicare beneficiary's doctors are not in the provider network, they will have to switch doctors.

4. Coverage is one of "the 4 Cs" because every Medicare plan with a pharmacy benefit does not cover every medication. If there are prescription drugs beneficiaries currently take, or expect to take, make sure they are covered. Otherwise, they could be enrolled in a plan that does not pay for the medications they need.

For more information about "the 4 Cs" and choosing the right Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan, visit abetterdecision. Health Net also has Medicare experts available on its toll-free number, 1-800-903-0944 (TTY 711), 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week. Medicare beneficiaries also can go to medicare to review their options or contact their current Medicare Advantage provider with their questions.

Some Limitations to Switching Plans

During the open enrollment period, which runs from Jan. 1 through Mar. 31, individuals have an opportunity to switch plans, but there are limitations. Specifically, they must continue to keep prescription drug coverage if they had it as of Dec. 31, 2009. Or, if Medicare beneficiaries did not have prescription drug coverage as of Dec. 31, 2009, they cannot add it to their plan if they decide to switch.

After March 31, 2010, until the start of the next annual election period in November of 2010, individuals can join or change plans for only a few specific reasons such as moving out of a plan's service area or turning 65, which allows first-time enrollment in a Medicare plan. A full list of reasons can be found at medicare.

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