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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Making the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

Once a year Medicare beneficiaries have an opportunity to review their Medicare choices, see what new benefit options Medicare has to offer, and make changes to their coverage.

The Medicare open enrollment period begins October 15, 2015 and ends December 7, 2015. Coverage selected during this time becomes effective as of January 1, 2016.

To help beneficiaries with this process, counselors from Atlantic County’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) are available to review and compare plans and assist them in making informed choices about which plan is best suited to their needs and which programs could help save them money. SHIP counselors can be reached at 1-888-426-9243 or (609) 645-5965, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll still have many of the same benefits and security you have now, including:

• Certain preventive benefits – including certain cancer screenings – are available at no cost to you when provided by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit lets you sit down with your doctor to discuss your health care needs and the best ways to stay healthy.

• Medicare will notify you about plan performance and the ability to use its online Plan Finder to compare and enroll in quality plans.

• In 2016, if you reach the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, you’ll save 55 percent on covered brand-name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs while in the donut hole. If you qualify for NJ State Programs, Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) or Senior Gold, you will not fall into the donut hole.

Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources may be eligible for Extra Help paying for their prescription drug coverage costs. To learn more about Extra Help assistance visit or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. (TTY, 1-800-325-0778).

To view and compare available plan options visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day/7 days a week. TTY users may call 1-877-486-2048.

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