Take action during Medicare open enrollment

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 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.
Other options for comparing Part D plans include visiting www.Medicare.gov and entering your information in the Plan Finder, attending one of the free enrollment events scheduled in the state, 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 county office of NDSU Extension for more information about Medicare open enrollment as Janet Wanek, FCS agent is a State Health Insurance Counselor who can make appointments and sit down with you to help you find a new Medicare Part D plan during open enrollment, 701-764-5593.

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