For Immediate Release: October 14, 2016

Medicare Open Enrollment Period October 15 – December 7

RALEIGH -- Your health needs change from year to year, and the benefits and costs of your health plan may change each year, too. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices every year. The Open Enrollment Period is the one time of year when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2017. Take advantage of the Open Enrollment Period, and you may be able to save money, improve your coverage or both.

The Open Enrollment Period starts on Oct.15—and lasts seven full weeks—to give you enough time to review and make changes to your Medicare coverage. You will need to make your final selection for next year's Medicare coverage by Dec. 7 to ensure that your coverage will begin without interruption on Jan.1.

“Open Enrollment is the opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to evaluate their plan and save money for the following year,” said North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. “The staff from SHIIP, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, are available to help over the phone or in-person in all 100 counties in North Carolina.”

Here are some of the ways to review and compare plans available for 2017:

SHIIP is a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance and offers free, unbiased information about Medicare, Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement plans as well as long-term care insurance and other health insurance issues. In addition to helping Medicare beneficiaries compare and enroll in plans during the Open Enrollment Period, SHIIP counselors can help people find out if they are eligible for Medicare cost savings programs.

For more information about SHIIP and the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, call 1-855-408-1212 or visit