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December 02, 2011 06:11 PM

Medicare Deadline Approaches

sioux falls, sd


Seniors could be scrambling to figure out which Medicare coverage plan will meet their needs in 2012. That's because open enrollment ends sooner than previous years.

Wednesday is the last day you can change your plan. That's earlier than year's past.

If you were satisfied with your plan for 2011 and don't want to change, you don't need to do anything. But if you want to change your plan, you only have a few more days.

77-year-old Shirley Reilly is very computer literate for her age, but she still needed help when looking into her Medicare Part D plan.

"It'll cover this, but it won't cover that. It'll do this, but it won't do that, so it's very confusing," Reilly said.

Reilly turned away from the computer and to one-on-one help with the SHIINE program when open enrollment time came around.

"A lot of people like to speak to someone locally, and we have the SHIINE program in the state of South Dakota that is a tremendous resource that offers counseling in nearly all the counties," Sam Wilson, the associate director of AARP in South Dakota, said.

Wilson says by enrolling in the right plan, you can save hundreds of dollars.

"They need to choose a plan they can afford. There are plans that range in cost as low as $15 a month to up to $100 a month. Certainly, they need to be aware of all the costs associated with that plan," Wilson said.

But if you're not like Reilly and haven't looked into your Medicare coverage plan, you still have time.

"It's not a day-long process. It's not a two-day long process. In fact, if you do go on medicare.gov or talk to a counselor, they can enroll you right online," Wilson said.

It's something Reilly encourages others to do because even though she ended up not changing her plan in the end, it's important to look at the options.

"Sometimes year to year, the company you had last year won't cover the drug you're taking. So then that's why you have to go back each year and check your formula," Reilly said.

Wilson says the three things to consider when choosing a plan are cost, coverage, and convenience.

If you would like more information about Medicare Open Enrollment, you can find contact information for SHIINE coordinators online.
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