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Medicare Open Enrollment 101

10/17/2016 02:47PM ● Published by Jennifer Gonzalez

As autumn progresses, it’s important to keep your health in mind. Medicare’s fall open enrollment period will allow you to review your plan options.

Maybe you have a new prescription that is not covered by your current drug plan or you have a new health condition. To ensure you get the most from Medicare in 2017, you should research your Medicare plan options during Medicare open enrollment.

Open enrollment begins Oct. 15 and closes Dec. 7. Changes made during this time will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.


During open enrollment, you can:

  • Adjust Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage.
  • Change from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (or vice versa).
  • Switch between Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch existing drug plans or drop Medicare prescription drug coverage.

If you’re unsure where to start, your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can help.

SHIPs offer free one-on-one assistance year-round to Medicare-eligible beneficiaries, their families and caregivers. Trained counselors in your area can help with understanding Medicare benefits and the enrollment process. Assistance is personalized, so SHIP counselors can help you find available options that fit your unique situation.

The program – funded by the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – provides services in every state as well as in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at ACL.gov.

Don't wait until the last minute. Take care of your health now and find your SHIP at shiptacenter.org, or contact Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227 or Medicare.gov.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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