Making the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment
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Making the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment


November 17, 2010

Ken Schwartz

NCOA offers tools to help people with Medicare select plans and access benefits in 2011

Washington, DC—Nov. 15 marked the beginning of Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period, which runs through Dec. 31, 2010. During this time, people with Medicare can select or change their Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for 2011.

Plans change, and so do individual health care needs. With tools from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), people with Medicare can help determine which plan best fits their needs and budget, and find other assistance to help them pay for prescription and health care costs. 

At NCOA’s My Medicare Matters (, consumers can learn how to review plan choices for 2011 and find a guide to decision-making and helpful worksheets for selecting a plan. New Medicare enrollees can get seven simple steps for choosing a plan for the first time.

The Annual Enrollment Period is also a great time for people with Medicare to use BenefitsCheckUp® (, NCOA’s free online screening service. Here they can not only learn about changes to Medicare Part D and the Low-Income Subsidy (Extra Help), they can also discover whether they may qualify for additional benefits that help pay for prescription drugs, health care, and other household costs. 

Specifically, people with Medicare can use BenefitsCheckUp’s Prescription Drug Assistance screening to get a personalized recommendation on what benefits options may be available, including:

  • Updates to Part D in 2011 as part of the health care reform law, such as the 50% discount on brand-name drugs during the coverage gap (also known as the "doughnut hole").
  • Whether they qualify for Extra Help, a program that assists with the monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for Medicare prescription drug plans. Those who may qualify can submit applications online through BenefitsCheckUp. 
  • Links to the Medicare Plan Finder to compare plans and enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
  • Updated information on State Pharmacy Assistance Programs (SPAPs) and how these programs work with Medicare Part D.
  • Updated information on Patient Assistance Programs, made available by private drug companies, which provide free or low-cost medication to people with limited incomes.
  • Other benefits that help provide access to, and financial support for, other health care needs.

“Keeping track of changes to Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and matching these changes to your current health care needs is a difficult task,” said Stuart Spector, senior vice president at the NCOA. “Thanks to these tools from NCOA, people with Medicare can get assistance during this enrollment period to select the plans that best suit their needs, and to learn about other benefits that may supplement their coverage.”

About My Medicare Matters  My Medicare Matters is a community-based education program that is helping thousands of people with Medicare learn about the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D) and make the enrollment decision that is right for their personal health and financial situation. As part of My Medicare Matters, My Medicare Community is an online community for professionals and volunteers who help people with Medicare, their families, friends and caregivers. This community exists to give professionals and volunteers engaged in this important work the chance to learn from each other and from experts in the field, to share promising practices, to solve problems together, and to access critical information, training materials and other educational resources. For more information visit or

About BenefitsCheckUp®  Developed and maintained by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), BenefitsCheckUp is the nation's most comprehensive Web-based service to screen for benefits programs for seniors with limited income and resources. It includes almost 2,000 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since 2001, more than 2.6 million people have used the service, identifying benefits valued at more than $9 billion.  For more information, visit


About NCOA  The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Our goal is to improve the health, independence, and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. We work with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit

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