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Dates to remember:

Nov. 13, 20, 27: Active Parenting of Teens, Mandan

Nov. 17: Medicare Part D enrollment help session by appointment

Nov. 21, 28 and Dec 5: Design Your Succession Plan, Mandan 6-8:30 p.m.

Nov. 30: Medicare Part D enrollment help session by appointment 

If you are on Medicare, you already may be on a prescription drug plan, also known as Medicare Part D.

Medicare Part D is a voluntary prescription drug benefit offered by private companies that are approved by Medicare.

Even if you have a plan and think you are set for the coming year, you need to consider your health and health-care spending now because of Medicare open enrollment.

People who re-examined their plans last year at this time saved an average of $600, for a total of $1.4 million in North Dakota.

Medicare open enrollment is an annual period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7) when current Medicare users can make changes to their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug benefits and you do not want to make changes to your coverage for 2018, you do not need to do anything during open enrollment, assuming your current plan will be available in 2018. People in a prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plan always should review the materials their plan providers send them, such as the Evidence of Coverage  and Annual Notice of Change.

The available plans and what they cover changes from one year to the next, so if your plan was the best option when you shopped last year, it might not be the best available option for the coming year.

To get information about next year’s Medicare plans, go to the Medicare website at or call the toll-free phone number at 800-633-4227.

For help comparing plans, you can make an appointment by calling the NDSU Extension office in Morton County at 701-667-3340 and scheduling an appointment with Vanessa Hoines to compare your Part D options or contact the State Health Insurance Counseling Program at the North Dakota Insurance Department, 888-575-6611.

To compare plans it is important to bring:

• A list of your medications, including dosages and frequency.

• Your Medicare card.

• Your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan card.

Another option for comparing Part D plans is visiting and entering your information in the Plan Finder

For further information on Medicare Part D or open enrollment, consider these resources:

• North Dakota Insurance Department,

• Medicare Part D,

• Local county agent of the NDSU Extension Service.

Vanessa Hoines is an Extension agent with the NDSU Extension Service/Morton County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science education and food and nutrition and a master’s degree in child development and family science.