National Council on Aging

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Dec. 4, 2013

Helping your clients beyond open enrollment

Senior couple with papersCongratulations on all your hard work as another open enrollment period comes to a close on Dec. 7! Over the course of the year, keep in mind a host of Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs), including the 5-star SEP, which starts each year on Dec. 8, that can help your clients get into a plan that best meets their needs. There are specific rules when using the 5-star SEP, so be sure to review them with your clients so they don’t lose any coverage that they need.
Learn about the star quality rating and related SEP | Get familiar with Part D SEPs

Apply for grants to help seniors enroll in SNAP

Thanks to a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation, NCOA is leading an initiative to alleviate senior hunger and enroll more older adults into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). State agencies, senior centers, community and faith-based organizations, and coalitions are invited to apply for grants up to $50,000 to help seniors apply for, and enroll in, SNAP. The deadline for applications is Jan. 3.
See how to apply

Affordable Care Act saves Medicare beneficiaries over $8 billion on drugs

Elderly hands holding pillsAccording to new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, people with Medicare prescription drug plan coverage saved $8.9 billion to date on their prescription drugs thanks to the Affordable Care Act. During the first 10 months of 2013, nearly 3.4 million people nationwide who reached the coverage gap—known as the “donut hole”—saved $2.9 billion, an average of $866 per beneficiary.
Read more | Get state-by-state donut hole savings

Deadline extended for Marketplace coverage beginning Jan. 1

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced an extension of the date by which consumers need to enroll in a Marketplace plan in order to get coverage starting Jan. 1. The original deadline was Dec. 15. Now it is Dec. 23; however, premiums must be paid by Jan. 1. Note: This is only for consumers who can buy insurance on the Marketplace. The deadline for Medicare Open Enrollment has not changed, and is still this Saturday (Dec. 7).
Learn more about key Marketplace enrollment dates

What’s the future of QI?

capitolMany counselors want to know whether the Qualified Individual (QI) program, one of the Medicare Savings Programs, will be renewed for 2014. Since 2002, Congress has extended QI on a year-to-year basis. On Dec. 12, the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on a bill to permanently fix the longstanding problems with Medicare physician payments. However, their fix may not include a permanent extension of the QI program. We’ll keep you posted on what happens.
Read more about QI


Other resources...

Benefits Alert is published by the National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment and National Council on Aging. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to

The National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment helps organizations enroll seniors and younger adults with disabilities with limited means into the benefits programs for which they are eligible so that they can remain healthy and improve the quality of their lives. For more information, visit


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The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans—especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged—and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, visit