What to Know About 2012 Medicare Open Enrollment

It's a good time to review your options and see if another plan offers a better deal.

What changes will there be to open enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans this year? When do I need to decide on my 2013 plan?

After some big Medicare changes last year, such as expanding preventive-care benefits and bumping up the time frame for Medicare open enrollment, this year’s changes are much smaller. The doughnut hole (the period during which you must pay out of pocket) for Part D prescription-drug coverage continues to close: The discount on brand-name drugs in the coverage gap will rise from 50% to 52.5%, and the federal subsidy to help pay for generics will rise from 14% to 21% in 2013. And people can now switch Medicare Advantage plans outside of open enrollment if they’re in an area that has a plan with a five-star quality rating (only 12 plans qualified in 2012, but more are expected to make the cut in 2013).

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.