November is National Diabetes Awareness Month: Take advantage of new Medicare open enrollment period - especially when living with diabetes

For those who are living with diabetes, taking insulin, and have Medicare, participating in the Medicare Open Enrollment Period is important every year. It is especially important this year as you prepare for 2021, as there have been some positive changes made within Medicare that could impact how much you pay for your insulin, without necessarily increasing the monthly premium you currently pay.

Open enrollment is the annual period when enrollees can make changes to their health insurance and medication part D plans. To make changes to your 2021 plan, you must do so during a specific timeframe. This is taking place now until December 7, 2020.

Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so people with Medicare should look at their coverage choices and decide on the options that best meet their health needs.

In Allamakee County, Medicare beneficiaries who use insulin may have up to 28 Part D drug plans and nine Medicare Advantage plans to choose from. They may offer many options of insulin at no more than a $35 monthly co-pay beginning January 1. The important part of this to understand is that not all drug plans will include this benefit.

You need to be proactive in making an appointment, before December 7, with someone who is able to explore these plans with you and decide if one best meets your needs. This person could be your insurance agent, a SHIIP volunteer, or your local pharmacist. You may also explore your options online by visiting or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

Those who do not wish to change their Medicare coverage do not need to re-enroll. You will automatically remain on the same plan for 2021 if no action is taken. However, premiums amounts may change, as well as coverage for your health services or medication costs.

If you do not have Medicare, and are having difficulty paying for your insulin and diabetes medications, there may also be financial assistance for you. Call Veterans Memorial Hospital Diabetes Education at 563-568-3411 for more information.

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