Medicare Sign-Up Season Is Here

Oct 15, 2013

The annual enrollment period for Medicare's prescription drug coverage and privatized Medicare Advantage plans is now open. It's the one time of year when people can make changes to their coverage without being penalized.

This year, many senior citizens have been confused. The enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act started just two weeks ago. Many people are under the mistaken impression that they need to sign up for coverage on the exchange, even though they have Medicare.

Marilyn Moon, a former public trustee of the Medicare and Social Security Trust Funds, says October is the time for Medicare beneficiaries to choose a new prescription drug plan, or a new Medicare Advantage plan.

"That has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act," she says. "But they’re kind of at the same time, so it sounds like it’s going to affect people.”

If you have a Part D prescription drug plan—or if you’re covered by Medicare Advantage, instead of traditional Medicare—it’s a good idea to review your options, because plans change their costs and benefits every year.

A program called SHICK, Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas, offers free, specially trained counselors to help seniors understand their options.