NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Medicare Open Enrollment Begins Soon!

Medicare Part D, Medicare Open Enrollment, SHIC Counseling

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

If you are on Medicare, you already may be on a prescription drug plan, also known as Medicare Part D. The Medicare Part D Open Enrollment period is from October 15 until December 7 each year. During the annual enrollment period (AEP) you can make changes to your coverage.

Medicare Part D is a voluntary prescription drug benefit offered by private companies that are approved by Medicare.

If you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan and you don’t want to make changes to your coverage for the coming year, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment, assuming your current plan will continue to be available. If your plan is being discontinued and isn’t eligible for renewal, you will receive a non-renewal notice from your carrier prior to open enrollment. Otherwise, it means you can keep your plan without doing anything during open enrollment.

Be aware that your benefits and premium could change from one year to the next. Even if you’re confident that you want to keep your current coverage for the following year, it’s important to make sure you understand any changes that may apply, and that you’ve double checked to make sure that your current plan is still the best available option. The available plans and what they cover changes from one year to the next. If the plan you have now was the best option when you shopped last year, it’s important to verify that again before you lock yourself in for another year.

Each year, most Medicare beneficiaries should receive their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their existing Medicare Part D plan providers by Sept. 30. CMS makes information available to the public on Medicare.gov in October. The Medicare website is also a tremendous asset for individuals with questions about Medicare rules, timelines, Medicare Part D, etc.

It’s important to carefully review the information sent to you by your plan provider since this will cover any possible changes. For example, increasing co-pays, changes to drug formularies or changes to treatment coverage. Once open enrollment gets underway, you can make changes that reflect your current health coverage needs.

Other options for comparing Part D plans include contacting one of several State Health Insurance Counseling (SHIC) counselors, visiting www.Medicare.gov and entering your information in the Plan Finder, attending the free local enrollment event in Hazen in November, or calling 2-1-1 from anywhere in North Dakota. After providing your medication information and answering some questions, information on the top three plans will be mailed to you.

For further information on Medicare Part D or open enrollment, check out these resources:

  • Dena Kemmet at NDSU Extension Mercer County – 873-5195
  • North Dakota Insurance Department - www.nd.gov/ndins/shic/MedicarePartD/
  • Medicare Part D - www.medicare.gov/part-d/

Source: Jane Strommen, NDSU Extension gerontology specialist

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