That Other Shopping Spree: Medicare Deadline Looms

Senior citizens have until Dec. 7 to choose a Medicare Advantage or new Medicare prescription drug plan – see video, story for helpful ideas

By Christian Torres, KHN Blog Capsules

Nov. 25, 2011 – Black Friday is nearly upon us, and along with holiday gift shopping, there’s plenty of Medicare shopping to do over Thanksgiving weekend. Seniors have only two weeks left to choose a new Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, if they want to change from their current ones. Medicare’s open enrollment deadline was pushed up this year, from Dec. 31 to Dec. 7, as part of the 2010 federal health law.

The earlier deadline is meant to ensure that beneficiaries are properly enrolled and get their new membership cards by the start of the plan year Jan. 1.

Despite earlier concerns, advocates with AARP and the Medicare Rights Center said that awareness of the looming deadline seems to have picked up over the past month because of the many TV ads, mailers and events calling attention to it. Few callers to the groups’ helplines are asking about the deadline; talk is now almost entirely about picking a plan. Read More