Don’t forget: the annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare ends on December 7.

During Open Enrollment, Medicare recipients can change their health and prescription drug coverage for the coming year. This is your opportunity choose the Medicare plan that best serves your unique health care needs and gives you the best value.

Use the Medicare Plan Finder to do a personalized search and see all the health care plans available. Remember, this is the only time you can change your plan, so take this opportunity to find something that works for you or your older family member.

If you are satisfied with the coverage you have, you don’t need to do anything at all.

Coverage and prices vary from state to state, so take the time to study the different options available. If you are a caregiver, sit down with your older parents or family members and help them choose the best option for their health needs and finances.

Plans change from year to year, so look closely at what their current plan covers, how much it costs, and how it compares to other plans. Look closely at the cost, coverage, convenience, and quality rating of the plan options.

For those choosing Original Medicare, the benefit package continues to grow stronger and provide greater value. For example, EVERYONE with Medicare has access to a variety of preventive services and screenings, most at no cost to them when furnished by qualified and participating health care professionals. This includes things like diabetes and cancer screenings, and a yearly “wellness” visit. During the first nine months of this year, more than 20 million people with Original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost. Beneficiaries may also explore their options beyond Original Medicare, as virtually all people with Medicare have access to Medicare Advantage Plans in 2013, and many of these plans offer extra benefits beyond the comprehensive package offered by Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may offer vision, hearing, or dental coverage, or extend coverage while you travel. And most Medicare Advantage Plans also include prescription drug coverage.

Use this time to decide what benefits are most important in helping you meet your unique health care needs. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area for what will provide you with the greatest value. If you still need help comparing, call 1 800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

If you have questions, please feel free to call my office.

You can learn more about Medicare at