Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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November 6, 2008

Medicare open enrollment period approaching
SHIINE program can help SD seniors make informed
Medicare decisions

PIERRE, S.D. The annual open enrollment periods for Medicare Part D and Medicare Health Plans are right around the corner. The South Dakota Department of Social Services urges all Medicare recipients to review their current plans and consider whether they may benefit from a change in coverage.

“It’s important to give yourself enough time to look over your plan and make sure it meets all your needs,” said Deb Bowman, Secretary of the Department of Social Services. “If you are not satisfied with your current coverage, take advantage of the open enrollment period.”

The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, 2008. Part D offers prescription drug coverage for all people with Medicare, and allows recipients to choose between at least two prescription drug plans. Coverage includes both brand name and generic drugs.

Open enrollment for Medicare Health Plans runs from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2009. Formerly known as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Health Plans are offered by private companies and may include prescription drug coverage.

Beginning Nov. 17, trained volunteers from the South Dakota Senior Health Information and Insurance Education Program (SHIINE) will offer free assistance to seniors seeking additional Medicare information. SHIINE volunteers can help seniors compare plans, evaluate their current coverage and fill out paperwork.

Seniors taking advantage of the free one-on-one counseling should bring their Medicare card and a current list of medications. The volunteers will use this information to walk through an online evaluation that compares coverage options. This evaluation can also be accessed from home at

To see if SHIINE volunteers are available in your area, contact:

  • Senior Health Information and Insurance Education (SHIINE)
    Phone: 1-800-536-8197

For more information on Medicare open enrollment, contact:

  • SD Department of Social Services Division of Adult Services and Aging
    Phone: 1-866-854-5465
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
    Phone: 1-800-MEDICARE