Medicare Open Enrollment underway

If you have a Medicare health or prescription drug plan, Open Enrollment runs through Dec. 7 and is the time you can make changes to your plan.

Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, you might find something that’s a better fit for your budget or your health needs. If you miss an Open Enrollment deadline, you’ll most likely have to wait a full year before you can make changes to your plan. Consider these tips:

• Review your plan notice. Be sure to read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter.

Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.

• Think about what matters most to you.

Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.

• Find out if you qualify for help paying for your Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums, your Medicare Part A — hospital insurance — and Medicare Part B — medical insurance — deductibles, co-insurance and co-payments and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs. Visit

or make an appointment with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor.

• Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. You can use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool on the website. If your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. During Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.

• Check your plan’s star rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder has been updated with the 2016 Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a 1-to-5-star scale, with 1 star representing poor performance and 5 stars representing excellent performance. Use the Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.