Prescription drug Open Enrollment Period is earlier this year

Medicare beneficiaries interested in making changes to their prescription-drug coverage plan under the federal health insurance program must do so during a different time period in 2011.

UPDATE: Today is the last day of the open-enrollment period. For free, unbiased assistance, call 1-800-390-3330 for CLAIM's counseling services.

The open-enrollment period for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug coverage part of Medicare implemented in 2006, has previously been at the very end of each year. In 2011, however, that period changes to:

Oct . 15 to Dec. 7

A wallet with a Medicare card and Social Security card in the pockets

During this time, beneficiaries who want to enroll in Part D, drop or make changes to a Part D plan can do. A notable exception are people new to Medicare. Seniors new to the system (usually because they are reaching age 65) still may enroll in a Part D plan within three months of their 65th birthday *. People living with disabilities who qualify for Medicare may enroll in a Part D plan within three months of their 25th month of disability*.

Another important exception is for people who qualify for the Extra Help/Low-Income Subsidy program. Those beneficiaries can change their Part D enrollment status at any time.

To determine whether you or a beneficiary you represent qualifies for Extra Help -- or for any other Medicare-counseling question -- call CLAIM at 1-800-390-3330.

* In this case, "within three months" means the following:

  • the three-month period before the beneficiary's 65th birthday or 25th month of disability
  • the month of the beneficiary's 65th birthday or 25th month of disability
  • the three-month period following the aforementioned birthmonth or 25th month of disability