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End of the Year: Time to Update Medicare Drug Plans

December 28, 2009

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The end of the year is a good time to review and renew, and that's something for those with Medicare prescription coverage to keep in mind. December 31 is the deadline for them to renew or enroll in a new plan.

AARP South Dakota state director Sarah Jennings says it takes just a few minutes to review the options, but it's an important few minutes.

"You can have one plan, take a drug, and it could cost $10 in one plan and $70 in another. It is just based on their drug list and what they are charging in a premium or a deductible or that kind of thing, so it can vary and it can change from year to year."

Jennings says some changes will cost South Dakotans more, and some could save money.

"There a slightly higher average premium that will be charged next year, and a couple fewer plans here in South Dakota. Some plans are offering some coverage in that dreaded 'doughnut hole,' which is that gap in coverage that so many South Dakotans face every year."

Jennings says while the monthly premiums may be very similar, the drug reimbursement may be quite different from plan to plan.

"Plans change every year - from the premiums, to what drugs may cost, to deductibles, to even just the name. People really need to take the time to shop around and make sure next year they are going to be in a good situation in terms of their drug coverage."

Help is available at any AARP office or the website,, Jennings adds.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD