Medicare Annual Election Period October 15 – December 7

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by Adrian Gaskins

RALEIGH— Your health needs change from year to year, and the benefits and costs of your health plan may change each year, too. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices every year. The Annual Election Period is the one time of year when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2016. Take advantage of the Annual Election Period, and you may be able to save money, improve your coverage or both.

The Annual Election Period started on Oct.15—and lasts seven weeks—to give you enough time to review and make changes to your Medicare coverage. You will need to make your final selection for next year’s Medicare coverage by Dec. 7 to ensure that your coverage can begin without interruption on Jan.1.

“Many Medicare beneficiaries don’t realize the importance of evaluating their plans every year,” said North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. “The staff from SHIIP, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, are available to help over the phone or in-person in all 100 counties in North Carolina.”

SHIIP is a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance and offers free, unbiased information about Medicare, Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicare Advantage, long-term care insurance and other health insurance issues. In addition to helping Medicare beneficiaries compare and enroll in plans during the Annual Election Period, SHIIP counselors can help people find out if they are eligible for Medicare cost savings programs.

Here are some of the ways to review and compare plans available for 2016:

  • Get one-on-one help from SHIIP, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, by calling 1-855-408-1212, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also request in-person assistance in your Lenoir County at clinics held throughout the county during open enrollment. Call locally 252-527-2191 for more information.
  • Visit medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.
  • Review the Medicare & You handbook. It was mailed to people with Medicare in September.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

For more information about SHIIP and the Medicare Annual Election Period, call 1-855-408-1212 or visit www.ncshiip.com.