The open enrollment periods for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans are right around the corner, and with several popular plans disappearing in 2011, the South Dakota Department of Social Services is urging all Medicare recipients to review their current plans and consider whether a change in coverage is necessary for them.
"One of the things we want people to know is that if they have a Medicare Advantage plan, the only time they can make changes to their plans is Nov. 15 through Dec. 31," said Deb Bowman, secretary for the Department of Social Services. "Folks will not be able to change these Medicare Advantage plans once Jan. 1 comes along like they have been able to do in previous years. This is important and we want Medicare recipients in South Dakota to know about this."
Insurance companies will discontinue some Medicare Advantage plans in 2011, including the Humana plan H2944-20, Security Choice plans and the Universal American plans which will impact 2,205 South Dakotans.
Recipients of these plans should enroll in a new plan during the open enrollment period, to ensure continued coverage next year.
The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. Part D offers prescription drug coverage for all people with Medicare, and allows recipients to choose between at least two prescription drug plans. Coverage includes both brand name and generic drugs.
Beginning Nov. 15, trained volunteers from the South Dakota Senior Health Information and Insurance Education Program (SHIINE) will offer free assistance to seniors seeking additional Medicare information. SHIINE volunteers can help seniors compare plans, evaluate their current coverage and fill out paperwork. Seniors taking advantage of the free one-on-one counseling should bring their Medicare card and a current list of Medications. The volunteers will use this information to walk through an online evaluation that compares coverage options. This evaluation can also be accessed from home at www.medicare.gov.
For more information on SHIINE or to meet with a volunteer in your community, call 1-800-536-8197 or contact your regional coordinator:
• Eastern South Dakota: Tom Hoy at 605-333-3314 or SHIINE@cfag.org
• Central South Dakota: Kathleen Nagle at 605-224-3212 or SHIINE@centralsd.org
• Western South Dakota: Debbie Stangle at 605-342-8635 or SHIINE@westriversd.org