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Open Enrollment for Medicare Starts Up in Oregon

There are 712,000 Oregonians on Medicare, and now is the time that they should take a close look at their coverage and decide whether changes need to be made for 2017. (Images Money/Flickr)
There are 712,000 Oregonians on Medicare, and now is the time that they should take a close look at their coverage and decide whether changes need to be made for 2017. (Images Money/Flickr)
October 19, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Open enrollment for Medicare is here, which means 712,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Oregon have the opportunity to review their plans - which also can be a challenge.

People across the country will have until Dec. 7 to take a look at changes to their current plans or sign up for Medicare. Joyce DeMonnin, communications director for AARP Oregon, said they should pay especially close attention to their prescription drug plans.

"The cost of prescription drugs tends to go up much faster than other inflationary type of cost," she said, "and it's one of those areas we really want to ensure that everyone who's looking at their Medicare plans this year is double-checking, to make sure that the drugs they need to stay healthy are on the plan they're going to have next year."

DeMonnin strongly suggests that people read any Notices of Change to their plans carefully. Folks can make a number of changes during open enrollment, including switching between Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, or switching from one standalone prescription drug plan to another.

DeMonnin suggested that as people evaluate their plan, they consider things such as the convenience of accessing their doctors and make sure the plan covers all the services they need to stay healthy. She said selecting a Medicare plan can be confusing, but help is available at no cost from state volunteers if they're feeling a bit lost.

"In Oregon, we have a program called the State Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program," she said. "It is one of the best volunteer programs, and it's all throughout the state. And if you need help picking the best Medicare plan for you, check out SHIBA volunteers and they will help you."

Reach the statewide SHIBA office by phone at 800-722-4134. People can find out more about coverage online at medicare.gov.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR