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It's almost time for Medicare Open Enrollment in Oregon

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AARP encourages Medicare's 712,000 Oregon beneficiaries to read their annual Notice of Change and to review their plan options for 2017 during Medicare Open Enrollment (October 15th -- December 7th). Given the trend in high prescription medication prices, consumers are advised to pay close attention to their Medicare Part D drug plan options to help save money.

Medicare plans often change their cost-sharing and coverage benefits every year. However, insurers must notify all their enrollees of any plan changes for the coming year before the end of September. AARP strongly recommends that people read these Notices of Change carefully, compare their current plan with other available plans, and change to a different plan during open enrollment if it better meets their current needs. People satisfied with their current coverage do not need to do anything because re-enrollment will occur automatically.

"The out-of-pocket co-pay amounts that people are paying for their prescription drugs are going up for many seniors because of rising drug prices," said AARP Oregon state director Jerry Cohen. Medicare health and prescription drug cost-sharing can vary widely between plans for the same drug or service. "During Medicare Open Enrollment, some people may be able to save hundreds of dollars on out-of-pocket costs just by changing to a different plan."

Cost of living increases for Social Security are not keeping up with drug inflation, Cohen said. Consumers need to be careful shoppers to make sure they are getting the best deal (for more information: http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/press-center/info-02-2016/report-retail-prescription-prices-increasing.html)

Things to Know About Medicare Open Enrollment

Changes You Can Make
Here are changes you can make during open enrollment:
· Switch from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa
· Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
· Switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another
· Drop Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage
· Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you didn't sign up when you were first eligible

Consider the "Four C's"
AARP recommends that people consider the "Four C's" when reviewing Medicare plan options:
· Cost -- Compare monthly premiums, annual deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance.
· Coverage -- Review the doctors and pharmacies included in the plan, as well as prescription drugs and other services you need.
· Convenience -- Look at the local doctors, pharmacies, and services included in the plans.
· Customer Service -- Consider the quality of service a plan provides. Quality ratings for most Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are available at
www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.

Where to Get Help
Medicare can be very confusing to people. There are a number of resources for people to get free assistance in choosing the best Medicare plans:
· Call the Medicare help line at 1-800-633-4227.
· Use Medicare's plan finder program at https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx.
· Call the state of Oregon State Health Insurance Benefits Assistance Program for personal help statewide. 1-800-722-4134 (toll-free)

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