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"Talk about the runaround," Beasley said. "Each entity referred me to another. I finally gave up and hoped no one was padding the bill."

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Across town, Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Moire Fb Black Sharon Beasley, of Newcastle, rues the day in May she turned 65.

Walker said Windsor Sterling had the largest reduction, which affected 3,540 beneficiaries from 59 counties across the state, including 724 beneficiaries in Tulsa Air Max 90 With Jeans

During this annual election period, counselors can help seniors pick up or drop a Medicare Advantage plan or switch to a new one, he said.

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As for Ada endocrinologist Curtis Harris, he opted out of Medicare 13 years ago.

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County and 392 in Oklahoma County. Meanwhile, Ardent, which operates the Lovelace Medicare Plan HMO in Oklahoma, reduced its service area, affecting beneficiaries in Oklahoma, Mayes and Payne counties and a reduction by Humana affected 690 residents in Creek County.

While consumers grapple with election choices for next year's plans, industry observers can't help but look to Tuesday's election.

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Studies indicate the uncertainty of the future of health care, and reduced Medicare reimbursement payments, may be causing many doctors to opt out of Medicare or quit seeing new Medicare patients. Only half of doctors will continue their current practice during the next three years, according to a survey of nearly 14,000 doctors released in September by the Physicians Foundation.

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"It's hard for physicians in rural Oklahoma, in particular, to stop seeing Medicare patients because seniors represent their patient base," said Melissa Johnson, director of health care policy for the Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA). population ages and 30 million more people are added to insurance rolls under health care reform.

"You need to think about the maximum out of pocket, and whether you've got that amount set aside for emergencies," Clure said. "Meanwhile, some drug plans require greater physician involvement than others, and you may not want that hassle."

Walker strongly recommends seniors every year seek counseling on Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs through private insurance companies. Insurers can change the drugs they cover from year to year, and a plan's rate and cost structure can go up annually, Walker said.

"Plan participants were sent notices in September, but many may have just opened that piece of mail," he said, "or only recently heard from a friend that their plan is going away."

Dec. 7 is the deadline for Medicare beneficiaries to change drug or health plans for next year, said Ray Walker, director of the department's free Medicare Assistance Program. If seniors don't make changes by then, most will be locked into their drug or health plans for another year, he said.

Though Beasley and other Medicare recipients understandably have questions about Medicare's future, they should be more focused on Dec. 7 than the election Nov. 6, say officials with the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

"Seniors in rural areas should be particularly cautious about agents selling them Medicare Advantage plans," Walker said. "Many plans may not have hospitals or physicians located within their community, and traveling to Oklahoma City or Tulsa would be inconvenient or impossible for them."

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Oklahoma is short about 400 family physicians alone, the OSMA told The Oklahoman after health reform passed in March 2010. And Bloomberg recently reported the current doctor shortage across all disciplines is some 13,000 and is Air Max 90 Black Cool Grey

In Oklahoma, few physicians 99 have opted out of Medicare, according to the website of Trailblazer Health Enterprises LLC, which currently administers Medicare payments for state doctors.

expected to balloon to 10 times that number by 2024.

To control rising Medicare costs, President Barack Obama's health reform plan, among other things, calls for cutting federal subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans, which have proved significantly more costly than original Medicare. Meanwhile Gov. Mitt Romney wants to give future beneficiaries people now 54 and younger federal vouchers to help buy insurance from traditional Medicare programs or competing private health plans when they become eligible.

"I was being reimbursed some 80 percent of my overhead, excluding wages, and nowhere close to my time," Harris said. "I was not only not making any take home, but losing money and had to charge others more."

Licensed independent insurance agent Linda Clure cautions beneficiaries to consider more than monthly premiums when choosing drug and health plans.

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"I find health insurance with Medicare even more mind boggling than before we got old," said Beasley, who unsuccessfully tried to make sense of the Medicare payments for her husband's hip surgery a few years ago.

Several providers of Medicare Advantage plans have dropped service in certain areas, though some seniors on those plans still may be unaware they no longer have coverage, Walker said.

"If it's axed," he said, "we figure we'd have to pay an extra $450 a month for supplemental insurance and prescription Air Max 90 Sale

drug plans. And to us seniors, that's a real fear."

Many respondents told Merritt Hawkins Associates, a doctor recruiting firm, they plan to cut back on hours (22 percent), retire (13.4 percent), seek hospital employment (5.6 percent), transition to a cash/concierge model (6.8 percent) or close their practices to new patients (4 percent).

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Day for Medicare beneficiaries

"One of our volunteers in Marietta, who's a retired CPA, found beneficiaries on average save $300 by changing plans annually," he said. Walker said he saved his uncle $7,000 by moving him from a plan that didn't cover his costliest medication to a plan that did.

Though most seniors in Oklahoma who carry drug plans choose Part D Medicare insurance, nearly 16 percent of the 626,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Oklahoma, or some 100,000, opt for Medicare Advantage network plans that include prescription drug coverage, Walker said.

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