Medicare Part D open season

The Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) open season is from October 15 to December 7, 2012.  New plans begin January 1, 2013.

Even if you are completely satisfied with your existing Part D policy, the open season is an important time for you. Due to your changing needs and annual plan changes, review your plan coverage each year. A plan that previously fit your needs might not be your best choice now. 

Everyone currently enrolled in Medicare can purchase a Part D plan to help with prescription drug costs. Unlike Medicare Part A (Hospital) or Part B (Medical), Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) is purchased through private insurers. You shop for the plan that best suits your personal needs. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.

Now is the time to list your medicines, including dosages and frequency, in order to review and compare available plans. Based on individual needs, spouses might choose different plans.    

Social Security representatives cannot assist people in choosing a Medicare Part D plan. To compare plans, go to the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov, and select the Drug Coverage (Part D) link. Use the free Medicare Plan Finder to compare plans available in your state. Plan data for 2013 is already on the Medicare Plan Finder. The Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) open season is from October 15 to December 7, 2012. 

 In North Dakota, the State Health Insurance Counseling Program (ND SHIC) will again travel to several cities around the state to provide free assistance in choosing a Part D plan. View the current schedule on the ND SHIC website (bottom of home page). The ND SHIC toll-free number is 1-888-575-6611 (TTY 800-366-6888). 

In Minnesota, the Senior LinkAge Line ®, part of the MN Board on Aging, offers the same free service. The toll-free Senior LinkAge Line ®  number is 1-800-333-2433.

Although Social Security representatives cannot assist people in choosing a Medicare Part D plan, the agency does administer the Extra Help portion of Medicare Part D. While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the prescription drug program, some people with limited income and resources also are eligible for Extra Help to help pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments.  

More about Extra Help next week.

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