For many of us, autumn is considered a time of beauty as we watch the colors of the foliage change. However, it represents something completely different for nearly 54 million Medicare beneficiaries. Instead of watching the leaves turn different shades of splendor, they watch as their mailbox is stuffed each day with marketing material from insurance companies. Television ads are plenty and often times, they are met at the pharmacy by insurance agents attempting to enroll them into a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Part C Advantage plan. This time of year, marks a period of confusion and frustration for most people on Medicare as they attempt to determine their insurance needs for the coming year. Legal Aid of the Bluegrass’s Public Benefits and Ombudsman Unit provides unbiased information to people on Medicare, their caregivers and family members in order to reduce the stress and confusion that is felt during Medicare Open Enrollment. Legal Aid’s trained benefit counselors provide one-on-one assistance at enrollment events and by phone in order to give individuals the information that they need to make an informed decision. This year, people on Medicare have 21 individual Medicare Part D plans and as many as 15 Medicare Advantage plans to choose from for the coming year. Those that remain with a plan from year to year, or select a plan solely on name recognition; often times find it to be a very costly mistake. In order to determine the most cost effective plan, a review of the monthly premium; annual deductible; out-of-pocket medication costs; and restrictions placed on the medications is necessary. Comparing these different plans is a difficult task. With that said, it is imperative that people on Medicare not allow the enrollment period to end without comparing their current coverage to that which is being offered in the following year. Medicare Open Enrollment began October 15 and ends December 7. For many, once this period ends, they will be unable to change the insurance despite not having coverage for their medication. For this reason, it is highly recommend that Medicare beneficiaries be proactive in their healthcare needs by calling Legal Aid for assistance at 1-866-516-3051.