Health Team

Deadline for Medicare enrollment moved up

Posted December 1, 2011

— The usual Dec. 31 deadline for people to enroll in a Medicare drug plan has been moved up this year to Dec. 7.

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said Thursday that it's urgent for seniors to act in the next few days, and he said the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, or SHIIP, could provide needed guidance.

SHIIP provides free, unbiased, independent help from trained experts, either in person or over the phone.

John and Sheila Hite of Raleigh have taken advantage of the assistance for three years to navigate the maze of Medicare drug plans. This year, seniors can choose from among 30 plans.

"In the beginning, it was very confusing because you're just bombarded on television and mail by so many different insurance companies," Sheila Hite said. "(SHIIP) made our lives so much easier. We tell our friends, 'Don't torture yourselves. Just call SHIIP, and they will help you.'"

SHIIP, Seniors Health Insurance Information Program Free program can help seniors sort through Medicare info

Melinda Carter, who is helping her 77-year-old mother settle into a nursing home and find a Medicare plan that fits her needs, said SHIIP counselors found a plan that saved her money.

"She has a lot of medications, and I was trying to make sure that the plan she had would cover, indeed, all of her medications," Carter said.

SHIIP counselors can be reached at 1-800-MEDICARE, or 1-800-443-9354.


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