Personal Finance: How to choose Medicare plans
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Recently we wrote about open enrollment season, that annual autumn rite where employees with health care coverage at work get to choose their medical benefits for the coming year.

This week, it’s about the other side of open enrollment: Medicare coverage, which is primarily for retirees ages 65 and older. If that’s you, your open enrollment season started Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

As everyone knows, health care choices can be confusing. To get some clarity, we talked with Nancy Metcalf, a health care specialist with Consumer Reports based in Yonkers, N.Y., who’s been writing, blogging and answering online questions about Medicare and health care coverage for the past five years.

You’ve cited studies that say one in four Americans don’t realize they can switch their Medicare plan every year. Why is that?

People are creatures of habit. They don’t check every year and realize they can switch. But prices can creep up … prescription drug costs, co-pays, co-insurance. Or your doctor or hospital can leave your covered group.

Chances are your plan won’t be that different (every year) but it can still pay to check.

What are the best ways to figure out Medicare choices?

It can be really confusing. I’ve been doing this intensively for five years and every day I get…………… continues on Sacramento Bee

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