SHIIP – Senior Health Ins Info Program

Medicare Open Enrollment time fast approaching!

Only 13% of people with Medicare Part D plans change their drug plans each year (on average). Relatively few people on Medicare have used the annual open enrollment period from October 15–December 7 to switch Part D prescription drug plans. Yet in Iowa, 50% of the people who received help from the state of Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) changed plans for 2016 and had combined savings over $16 million.  If you’re not doing an annual check of your Part D coverage you could be missing out on big savings.

Every year by September 30 people with Part D plans receive the “Annual Notice of Change,” sent out by plans to explain changes to the formulary (drugs covered), benefits and costs.  This is your first chance to review your coverage.  You should also do a comparison of Part D plans to see if another plan would provide you better coverage at a lower cost for 2018.

If you would like help doing a comparison of plans, contact SHIIP. In one hour or less a SHIIP counselor can complete a review, let you know if you can save money and make sure you have access to the drugs you need in 2017.  Call 1-800-351-4664 today to find the SHIIP site nearest you.  SHIIP’s services are free, confidential and objective.  Any change you make will be effective January 1, 2018.

Kris Gross from SHIIP, says, “We’re asking everyone to remind family, friends and neighbors about these important dates.  We don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to make their choice of plans for 2018.”

The 2018 Medicare drug plans will be available on the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov, on October 1.  Plans not renewing their contract with Medicare for 2018 must notify their members by October 2. “Notices of Creditable Coverage” are also due October 15.  This is a notice from employer/union and other group health plans which tell Medicare eligible enrollees if their drug coverage will be “as good as or better than Medicare’s coverage” in 2018.

If you have questions about Medicare Part D contact SHIIP at 1-800-351-4664 (TTY1-800-735-2942), go to www.therightcalliowa.gov or e-mail shiip@iid.iowa.gov. You can reach a local SHIIP counselor by calling Lorry Kohls at Central Community Hospital 563-245-7023, Pat Martin at 563-539-4204, or Guttenberg Municipal Hospital’s  Family Resource Center at 563-252-2272.