Medicare open enrollment changes

The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans are fast approaching and this year's enrollment period will be from Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2011.

 "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 Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2011," said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, secretary for the Department of Social Services. "All Medicare recipients should take this time to review their current plans with their spouse or other family members and consider whether a change in coverage is necessary for them."

The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans runs from Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2011. 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 Oct. 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

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
  •  Central South Dakota: Kathleen Nagle at 605-224-3212 or
  •  Western South Dakota: Debbie Stangle at 605-342-8635 or
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