The December 7th deadline for Medicare open Enrollment is almost here.

Anyone looking to augment or enroll into Medicare or Medicaid might notice that this year the enrollment period came around earlier than before. Dr. Jaye Weisman, regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says the window was extended as provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The window for enrollment was extended to seven weeks, and the start date began October 15th until December 7th…leaving less than a week until the deadline. Weisman warns that if you are in need of a new coverage plan, hurry.

“While there is more time to make to make a Medicare prescription drug plan selection, the deadline is looming.

Qualified applicants still have three methods to figure out what plan works for them: physical brochure, hotline, or via the Plan Finder found at The annual “Medicare and You” handbook is sent to every eligible Medicare recipient. It’s custom tailored to the location where the beneficiary lives and lists all of the different plan options.

For Medicare recipients who are looking for a more modern option, the Plan Finder is a tool that uses information you enter to help select an appropriate plan.

“They themselves can enter their location into the Plan Finder, enter the specific medications they take , and out will come a plan comparison –including costs—that’s customized for each person.”

Anyone who isn’t as tech savvy or who has a question, Weisman says, are always able to call the Medicare and Medicaid Center at 1-800-MEDICARE.  She adds that anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the computer shouldn’t feel bad since “there are people who are available who will sit with you and do the customized comparisons for you.”

Additionally, the State Health Insurance Program is available to do a plan comparison. Weisman reminds “that it’s a planned comparison of the medication that you plan to take.”

One of the biggest changes this year is to the group of Medicare recipients in the Doughnut Hole, the prescription coverage gap man are caught in.

“What’s new this year is that there has been a 50% discount for people who enter the Doughnut Hole and a 7% discount for people who enter the hole.”

Weisman adds that the 7% discount will be added annually (14% next year 21% the following year and so forth). She says this strategy will help completely fill in the coverage gap caused by the Doughnut Hole by 2020.

Additionally, she believes that combined with the new Plan Finder Tool, it will help people, especially in the middle class save money in their pockets.