Know your health coverage options if your Medicare Advantage Plan is ending at the end of the year.

Extra Help is a federal program that helps pay Medicare prescription drug premiums deductibles, and copays. If you have Extra Help and your Medicare Advantage Plan is ending on December 31, 2017, your plan must send you a letter by October 2, 2017 to tell you it will no longer be available next year.

Below are important steps to take when you have Extra Help and your Medicare Advantage Plan is ending.

1. Understand what’s changing after December 31, 2017.  Most Medicare Advantage Plans include both Medicare health and drug coverage. For that reason, the end of Medicare Advantage Plan means that your Medicare drug and health coverage will change next year.

2. Understand what’s not changing next year.  There are different ways to qualify for Extra Help. You may have gotten Extra Help automatically because you have full Medicaid coverage or have a Medicare Savings Program, that helps pay your Medicare health premiums, and in some cases copays. Or, you may have applied for Extra Help through the Social Security Administration. Though your Medicare Advantage Plan may be ending, this should not change or disrupt your Medicaid, Medicare Savings Program or Extra Help benefits. Know that your Extra Help benefit will still continue if your Medicare Advantage Plan is ending.

3. Decide how you want to get your Medicare health and drug coverage next year.  You can either join another Medicare Advantage Plan to get your health and drug coverage, or, you can enroll in Original Medicare for your Medicare health coverage, along with a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan for your Medicare prescription drug coverage.

Keep in mind, if you do not affirmatively choose a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a Medicare drug plan, Medicare will automatically enroll you in Original Medicare and a benchmark drug plan to start on January 1, 2018.  A  free national helpline at 800-333-4114.