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Pfizer says its vaccine is safe for children ages 5 to 11, travel restrictions soon will ease for vaccinated international visitors to the U.S., and a Texas doctor who performed an abortion under new restrictions is sued.


Lawsuits stall debt relief for America's Black farmers; Idaho hospitals using "critical care" protocols; grant money boosts rural towns in Utah and more conservation acreage could protect the iconic sage grouse.

Be Prepared – Open Enrollment For Medicare Is Earlier


Monday, September 12, 2011   

INDIANAPOLIS - Medicare beneficiaries will need to make decisions earlier this year about their health and prescription plans for 2012. Cheryl St. Clair, program director for SHIP, the Indiana State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, says the enrollment period is October 15 to December 7.

"By starting earlier in October, it will give people with Medicare an opportunity to really focus on their health care choices and not have so many activities going on because of the holidays."

St. Clair says people can call SHIP, Medicare or the insurance plans directly.

She says Medicare recipients can get a better look at their options by calling SHIP.

"A comparison for the Medicare Advantage Health plans and also the drug plans - they would call our 800 number and we would send out that comparison."

The SHIP number is 800-452-4800.

Terri Fey, a technical advisor for the Division of Medicare Health Plan Operations, says there are very strict guidelines insurance plans must follow.

"For example, they can't say that they're endorsed by Medicare or that they're calling on our behalf or that Medicare asked them to call them or to see them. That is strictly not allowed."

Fey says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services monitors insurance plans and their agents and can take action against them.

"The Department of Insurance also has the authority to take enforcement action against any specific agents or brokers that engage in inappropriate activity."

Fey says any time seniors feels someone has crossed the line, they can file a complaint with Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-986-3505, or get in touch with Medicare itself or Indiana SHIP.

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