Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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November 4, 2009

Medicare Open Enrollment period approaching
Recipients urged to review options as several plans not available next year

PIERRE, S.D. The open enrollment periods for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans are right around the corner, and with several popular plans disappearing next year, the South Dakota Department of Social Services is urging all Medicare recipients to review their current plans and consider whether a change in coverage may be beneficiary – or necessary.

Insurance companies will discontinue some Medicare Advantage plans in 2010, including the Advantra Freedom PFFS and Wellcare PFFS plans, which will affect 1,400 South Dakotans. Recipients of these plans should enroll in a new plan during the open enrollment period, to ensure continued coverage next year.

The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, 2009. 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 Advantage plans runs from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2009. Offered by private companies, Medicare Advantage plans include hospital and medical coverage, and may include prescription drug coverage.

Beginning Nov. 16, 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

For more information on SHIINE or to meet with a volunteer in your community, call 1-800-536-8197 or contact your Regional Coordinator: