Open enrollment for Medicare Oct. 15 - Dec. 7

The purpose of this letter is to remind everyone on Medicare of the upcoming open enrollment period to open or change a prescription drug plan, sometimes referred to as Part D plans. Part D plans are issued on a calendar year basis, so the open enrollment period starting Oct. 15 and ending Dec. 7 will be to enroll in a plan for the 2018 calendar year.

Please remember, Part D plans are unlike most other types of insurance since the contract is for only one calendar year. Although your 2017 Part D plan may continue to 2018, it can change the list of drugs covered, the cost of each drug, the deductible, and the premium. As a result of these possible changes, if you do not review the Part D plans available for 2018, you may incur significantly higher costs than necessary. Volunteers for the State of Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) are available to help compare Part D plans and assist those on Medicare find the plan that covers their individual prescriptions at the lowest cost. Last year SHIIP volunteers in Iowa met with approximately 10% of the Iowa Medicare enrollees and helped those individuals compare plans and enroll in a more cost effective plan, saving a cumulative amount in excess of $22 million! We hope we can increase the number of Medicare enrollees we meet with and perhaps save even more for this coming year. The only place to view all of the Part D plans available to you is on Medicare.gov.

In addition, there are programs to assist Medicare recipients get additional help with their prescription costs, based on income and resources. The application for assistance is completed with the Social Security administration, and SHIIP volunteers can assist with this application. SHIIP volunteers can also help both recent retirees and individuals turning 65 understand Medicare and the health insurance options available to them to cover doctor and hospital expenses and the approximate premium and out of pocket costs for medical services other than prescriptions.

The Buena Vista County SHIIP volunteers, based at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center, are available to assist anyone on Medicare with questions about Part D plans. We can enter your prescriptions in the Medicare.gov site and help you compare all of the Part D plans available for 2018. If requested, we can assist in completing enrollment in a Part D plan for next year. If you do nothing, your 2017 Part D plan will carry over and be in effect for 2018, but if you can save money by enrolling in a different Part D plan for 2018, your new plan will take effect January 1, 2018 and your old plan will automatically be terminated at the same time. To meet with a SHIIP volunteer, call 712-213-8683 and Danielle will set up an appointment for you. SHIIP services are free, confidential, and objective, so start that Part D review process now by calling for an appointment.

SUE GEISINGER

GARY ROSENE

SHIIP Volunteers