For Immediate Release: December 1, 2011

Important Deadline: Time is Running out to Enroll in a Medicare Drug Plan

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wants to remind North Carolina's 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries of a very important deadline. The Annual Election Period to review, compare and enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage ends Dec. 7, 2011.

The deadline is earlier this year than in previous years, and some people may falsely believe they have until the end of the year to choose a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Premiums, formularies and benefit structures for the plans change each year; for 2012, there are 30 plans available.

"It's important to explore your options so that you can choose the best plan for your current situation. You may be able to reduce your costs or improve your prescription drug coverage from year to year," said Goodwin. "The time to act is right now."

Medicare beneficiaries are encouraged to call SHIIP, the Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program, at 1-800-443-9354 for help with choosing and enrolling in coverage. Please have your Medicare information and list of prescriptions available when you call. Keep in mind, you may experience some wait time as the deadline is approaching.

SHIIP, a division of the Department of Insurance, provides free and unbiased counseling to Medicare beneficiaries in all 100 North Carolina counties.