Medicare open enrollment: now thru Dec. 7

October 19, 2017

Beginning Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 7, 2017, the open enrollment period allows Medicare-eligible patients the option of changing their coverage for 2018. Your 2018 Medicare & You Handbook should have arrived via the postal mail, and it’s important that you read this guide as you are making your decision. Every year, open enrollment is the chance to decide if you want to keep your current plan, or change to a Medicare Advantage Plan, or other health plans. If you were eligible for but not enrolled in Medicare Part B last year, you can sign up for coverage with Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Open enrollment is also the time to sign up for or change your prescription drug coverage, if you need to.
While the Part B premium and deductible have not yet been published, Part B (which includes Railroad Medicare) works as the following:

  • You pay a Part B premium each month (most people will pay a standard amount).
  • You may pay more if your adjusted gross income on your income tax return from two years ago is above a certain level.
  • For most services, you have a 20 percent copay.

If you need help determining the best plan for you, we encourage you to contact your State Health Insurance Program, also called ‘SHIP’. SHIP is available in all 50 states and U.S. territories. It may be called something slightly different in your state (California’s SHIP is called the ‘California Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program’ (HICAP)). However, they function the same way. You can find the contact information for the SHIP in your state by visiting Palmetto GBA’s website at
If you have questions about SHIP, you can call Palmetto’s toll-free Beneficiary Customer Service Line at 800-833-4455, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. For the hearing impaired, call TTY/TDD at 877-566-3572. This line is for the hearing impaired with the appropriate dial-up service and is available during the same hours customer service representatives are available.
Palmetto GBA invites you to join their listserv/email updates. Just select the ‘listservs’ link at the top of their main webpage at