Medicare open enrollment earlier this year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stephanie Carroll Carson
N.C. News Service
RALEIGH — Medicare beneficiaries will need to make decisions earlier this year about their health and prescription plans for 2012.
Medicare enrollment will take place from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, a change made by Congress to smooth the process at pharmacies when new plans take effect. Until now, the Medicare deadline had been Dec. 31.
With new plans taking effect Jan. 1, says Kevin Robertson, deputy commissioner for the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program for North Carolina, it made it difficult for the system to keep up with people’s choices.
“This way, they’ll have that card in hand, so this will help everyone to be better prepared for Jan. 1 when it does take place now,” he said.
Details about the specific Medicare plans for North Carolinians will be available in early October. They can call their local Seniors Health Insurance Information Program office for help in reviewing the plans to select the one that’s right for them.
All seniors need to do when they call or log on to the program website, Robertson says, is have their Medicare card in hand, as well as any prescriptions they are taking.
“The beneficiary can make the decision: Do they want to stay in the plan that they have last year or do they want to go to a new plan that may be cost effective for them?” he said.
The Seniors Health Insurance Information Program number for North Carolina is toll-free, 800-443-9354. Its website is