Monday October 15th is the first day of the enrollment period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans. The enrollment period lasts through December 7th.
Medicare Part D offers prescription drug coverage and Medicare Advantage covers services such as home health, doctors' care and hospice.
SHINE coordinator Debbie Stangle says it's important to reevaluate your Medicare plans every year because plans can change. She says even if your deductible hasn't changed, maybe the plan dropped one of your medications. So she emphasizes the importance of at least looking into your plan.
Stangle also stresses the importance of enrolling during the enrolment period. "If you don't enroll during those times when you can, you can actually be penalized and a lot of folks don't realize that so then when they come back at a later date and want to pick up a prescription drug plan, if they haven't been on any meds and they haven't needed one until now they can have a crude, a pretty hefty penalty that stays with them for the rest of the time," said Stangle.
SHINE volunteers are available during this period to help you compare Medicare plans, and fill out paper work. If you have Internet access you can compare Medicare plans at www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-536-8197 to reach your Regional SHINE Coordinator and schedule a visit.
During the enrollment period there will also be SHINE volunteer sites throughout the city. On Mondays there is one at Canyon Lake Senior Center, Tuesdays at AARP Rushmore Mall, and Wednesdays at Minneluzahan Senior Center. Thursdays there will be a site at Pennington County Extension, and Fridays AARP Rushmore Mall.