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Your questions on Medicare and Medicaid answered by the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) an objective, not-for-profit counseling, assistance and advocacy service sponsored by DPHHS of Montana and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare D and Medicare Advantage is October 15th to December 7th in 2019. It is time to start the pre-enrollment process!

October 1st is the first day that the Medicare D and Medicare Advantage plans can begin to advertise the new plans for 2020. Beginning in October the plan you are enrolled in will send out information regarding the plan’s benefit for 2020. If you are happy with your plan, you follow the instructions in the packet to keep the plan – you generally don’t have to do anything to remain in your current plan. But remember to check your plan carefully each year! Last year local SHIP counselors helped 682 folks in Yellowstone Co. change their plans and saved them over $700,000 in copay costs for 2019. The local SHIP counselors will be providing a limited number of one-on-one counseling sessions to help you identify your drug plan options from Oct 15th to Dec 7th. In Yellowstone County call 406-259-5212 now to begin the 2020 review process. Call 1-800-551-3191 to reach a SHIP counselor in other areas.

Q: Why do I have to keep checking my Medicare D and Medicare Advantages plan every year?

A: Each year plans can restructure the benefits in their Medicare D and/or Medicare Advantage plans. They are allowed to change their premium cost, their deductible amount, what drugs they will cover and what the initial copay for each drug will be for the year. Even if you are happy with the plan you had in 2019, you should check to be sure your drugs continue to be covered by your plan and their copay costs haven’t changed significantly. From October 15th until December 7th you will be able to enroll in a different plan if you want for 2020.

The Resource Center staff will be presenting “Changes to Medicare D and Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020” at 2 locations this year. On Wed., Oct 9th at 12:30 p.m. at the 2nd Alliance location at 935 Lake Elmo Dr. On Thurs., Oct 10th at 12:30 p.m. at 1505 Avenue D. Please call 259-5212 to reserve your seat for either location.

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Do you have a question about Medicare or Medicaid that you would like answered? Please send your question to SHIP Program c/o Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County, PO Box 20895, Billings, MT 59104 or rc@allianceyc.org

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