BENES Act Will Protect People Who are Approaching Medicare Eligibility, says the Medicare Rights Center
Washington, DC—The Medicare Rights Center applauds Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Todd Young (R-IN) for introducing the bipartisan “Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act” in the Senate.
The BENES Act (S. 1909) would ensure that people approaching Medicare eligibility receive a clear and detailed notice that explains Medicare Part B enrollment rules. It would also align and simplify Part B enrollment periods by bringing them in line with those of private insurance products, including Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. At the same time, it would eliminate needless gaps in coverage for people new to Medicare.
“The BENES Act would make the Medicare Part B enrollment system much simpler and would ensure people have better information as they approach eligibility,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities.
The consequences of Part B enrollment mistakes are significant—including late enrollment penalties, higher out-of-pocket health care costs, gaps in coverage, and barriers to accessing needed services. In 2014, an estimated 750,000 people with Medicare were paying a Part B Late Enrollment Penalty (LEP), with the average LEP amounting to nearly a 30% increase in their monthly premium.
“People with Medicare call the Medicare Rights Center’s national helpline every day because they are confused about whether they need to enroll in Part B, or they made a mistake and are now struggling with lifetime penalties or gaps in their health coverage. We need to make changes that inform and protect people who are becoming eligible for Medicare,” said Baker. “Thank you to Senators Casey and Young for introducing the BENES Act and promoting the well being of people with Medicare and those who are approaching eligibility.”
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