Medicare beneficiaries have less than one week remaining to make changes to their health and drug coverage for 2012.
The open enrollment period, during which seniors can adjust coverage without restriction, ends Dec. 7, three weeks earlier than in previous years. Advocates for the elderly are urging Medicare beneficiaries to take stock of their plans, even if they’re satisfied with their coverage.
“Changes happen every year, and their own physical needs may change year to year,” said Anne Smith, a Medicare rights advocate at Maine Legal Services for the Elderly.
Seniors are advised to learn whether their plan’s costs or benefits will change and whether a different plan may better suit their needs in the coming year. If beneficiaries take no action, their existing plan will roll over.
Any coverage changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2012.
Seniors may contact their local area agency on aging for assistance during the remainder of the open enrollment period. The statewide toll-free number is 877-353-3771. Smith recommended beneficiaries have their Medicare number, plan name and a list of all medications and dosages ready when calling.
Patrick Adams, manager of community programs for the state’s elder services agency, urged seniors to arrange for help immediately, as volunteers are booking up during the last days of the open enrollment period.