NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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What is Medicare Open Enrollment and Why is it Important?

What is Medicare Open Enrollment and Why is it Important?


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 2017, you do not need to do anything during open enrollment, assuming your current plan still will be available in 2017. 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 2017. 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.


For help comparing plans, you can contact the North Dakota Insurance Department’s State Health Insurance Counseling Program (SHIC) at 1-888-575-6611 for a free drug plan comparison. The SHIC program also can give you contact information for any trained SHIC volunteers in the state who can assist with plan comparisons.



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