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Time Almost Up For Medicare Plan Enrollment


Seniors used to have until the end of the year to make changes to their Medicare plans. But this year, the deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Even for those people who are satisfied with their coverage, some may find the “plan is changing its costs and benefits for 2012,”  said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, in a statement. “It’s important to take stock of your current health and drug coverage and to consider your health and financial needs.”

To help navigate the often-confusing Medicare options, check out these resources:

  • For free consumer-friendly information about Medicare benefits, rights and options, visit Medicare Interactive.
  • For free counseling to help you pick a plan, call your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). To find your local SHIP, click here or call 800-677-1116.

If you end up selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, but then decide you don’t like it, you can switch to Original Medicare and a Medicare Part D drug plan during the so-called Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period.  This period is from January 1 – February 14th.

However, don’t use this excuse to avoid doing your homework now.  “The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period is a limited window of opportunity that can be useful for some beneficiaries,” Baker says. “But it’s important to remember that if you make a change during that time, you may not be able to get a Medigap plan to fill the gaps in coverage, or your Medigap choices may be limited,” he says.

In effect: “It’s best to put the time in now to find the best plan for you, because after December 7 may be too late,” he says.


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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.