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Take Action During Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Part D open enrollment

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

If you are on Medicare, you already may be on a prescription drug plan, also known as Medicare Part D.

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

Even if you have a plan and think you are set for the coming year, you need to consider your health and health-care spending now because of “Medicare open enrollment.”

Medicare open enrollment is an annual period (Oct. 15 through Dec. 7) when current Medicare users can make changes to their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug benefits and you do not want to make changes to your coverage for 2018, you do not need to do anything during open enrollment, assuming your current plan still will be available in 2018. People in a prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plan always should review the materials their plan providers send them, such as the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC).

You need to be aware that benefits and premiums could be changing for 2018. The available plans and what they cover changes from one year to the next, so if your plan was the best option when you shopped last year, it might not be the best available option for the coming year.

To get information about next year’s Medicare plans, go to the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov or call the toll-free phone number at 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227).

For help comparing plans, you can contact the State Health Insurance Counseling Program (SHIC) North Dakota Insurance Department at 1-888-575-6611 or one of the following local certified SHIC Counselors:

  • Dena, NDSU Extension Service: 873-5195
  • Julie, Coal Country Community Health Center Beulah: 873-4445
  • Sharlene, Coal Country Community Health Center Hazen: 748-2256

Another local option is to attend the Open Enrollment Event on November 1 in Hazen at Sakakawea Medical Center. Counselors will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 701-873-5195 to make an appointment. Walk-ins welcome!

For this event you must bring:

  • A list of your medications, including dosages and frequency
  • Your Medicare card
  • Your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan card

Other options for comparing Part D plans include visiting www.Medicare.gov and entering your information in the Plan Finder or calling 2-1-1 from anywhere in North Dakota now through Nov. 17. 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:

  • North Dakota Insurance Department - www.nd.gov/ndins/shic/MedicarePartD/
  • Medicare Part D - www.medicare.gov/part-d/
  • Contact your local county agent of the NDSU Extension Service for information or assistance.

Source: Jane Strommen, NDSU Extension gerontology specialist

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