Q: I am in a Medicare HMO. What will be different for me as far as decisions and choices other than the normal annual enrollment decisions that start in October? — Inez from Hudson
A: Medicare recipients — meaning Americans ages 65 and older — are used to the health insurance signup period held every fall. The Healthcare Marketplace that is the center of attention right now is separate from Medicare. Here’s some information that might help explain the differences for 2014:
* Medicare enrollment is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 this year. Americans 65 and older are eligible for this partially subsidized government-backed health insurance.
* The Healthcare Marketplace, or exchange, will hold its enrollment from Oct. 1 to March 31, 2014. This is available to individuals younger than 65 who do not have insurance or do not have access to affordable health coverage from their employer. Small businesses also can buy group plans on the exchange.
* Changes to Medicare for 2014 are not affected directly by the marketplace, but thee are some changes to prescription plan coverage. In general, seniors will be paying less for their drugs in the future.
* For more information about Medicare enrollment, visit Medicare.gov.