Each year, Medicare has an open enrollment period for beneficiaries to reevaluate their coverage, specifically Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs. The enrollment period lasts from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 each year. The following tips can help you stay on top of Medicare changes.

Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) is a free program offering Kansans an opportunity to talk with trained community volunteers to receive unbiased answers to questions about Medicare and other insurance issues. K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County offers this free opportunity. SHICK counselors will provide you with many resources that will help you with your questions about Medicare.

Medicare is often confusing and can feel overwhelming, but SHICK counselors can assist people to stay informed on changing conditions in health care insurance. Simply stated, we are here to cut through the confusion. SHICK counselors receive training on Medicare, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Long-Term Care and other health insurance subjects that concern older Kansans.

The best part of the SHICK program is that our counselors do not work for an insurance company. No one is going to try to sell you something. We are simply here to guide and give you the best, most affordable option for the coming year. The goal is to educate and assist the public to make informed decisions that work best for them.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder provides a way to make specific plan comparisons. If you prefer to do your own internet search, it is available electronically at www.medicare.gov

This is a safe and secure website to plug in your personal information like your Medicare card identification number. The Drug Plan Finder allows you to personalize your search for a drug plan that most closely fits your needs. However, if you would like assistance with this process, the K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office will be offering free counseling for individuals looking to update their Medicare Part D plan. Appointments can be made at our office starting now.

Each year Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to review their health and drug coverage for the next year during the open enrollment period. Be sure to not miss this opportunity. Insurance companies change coverage areas and prescription drugs every year, thus checking on your current plan’s consistency for 2018 is proactive and financially wise. Stop by our office at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing, call us at 913-364-5700 or visit www.medicare.gov

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.