Medicare Open Enrollment Is Earlier Now

People with Medicare need to enroll in a prescription drug plan earlier this year. According to the Nebraska Department of Insurance, the open enrollment period for Medicare Part D now occurs from October 15, 2011 through December 7, 2011.

There has never been a better time to find out about Medicare coverage. Whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, there are several new benefits including lower prescription costs, wellness visits, and preventive care. People who take advantage of open enrollment may be able to save money and get improved coverage.

Medicare beneficiaries who typically use the December holidays to discuss health care options with family or friends should move that conversation to an earlier date. Medicare decisions for 2012 must be made no later than December 7, 2011. “Your health needs change from year to year. And, your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year, too. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices every year,” said Alicia Jones, Director of the Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

Open enrollment is the one time of year when people with Medicare can learn about the new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage. This year’s earlier enrollment period ensures Medicare has enough time to process changes, so new coverage can begin without interruption on January 1. 2012.

“It’s worth it to take time to review and compare, but you don’t have to do it alone. Medicare and Nebraska SHIIP provide free, unbiased counseling,” said Jones who offered three ways for people to get help:

  • Get one-on-one help from the Nebraska State Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). Call the SHIIP toll-free hotline at 800-234-7119 to make an appointment.
  • Visit to compare your current coverage with all of the available options in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day/7 days a week to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.