Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, is reminding Central Coast Medicare beneficiaries that there is only one week remaining in Medicare’s open enrollment period, which ends Dec. 7.

The open enrollment period is the time during which beneficiaries can choose to change plans or shift between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare.

“With only one week remaining in the annual open enrollment period, I am encouraging all Medicare beneficiaries — and their family members — to take the time to review their current health and drug plan coverage,” Capps said. “Reviewing their options will allow Central Coast seniors to ensure that their Medicare plan is the best plan to meet their health-care needs. I would also recommend that beneficiaries visit and take advantage of the user friendly tool available to compare plans and benefits.”

In addition, users of the Medicare Plan Finder, available at, will be able to compare plans’ quality summary ratings from the previous year, identify which drugs may or may not be on a plan’s formulary or be restricted, and compare the cost ranges for plans available in their community.

To make it easier for beneficiaries to choose high quality plans, users will find an icon that shows those plans that had a low overall quality rating the past three years and will also see a gold star icon for those plans that have a five-star rating for 2013.

Due to recently enacted changes in the program, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits are stronger than ever while beneficiaries continue to have access to a range of affordable products. But each year, plans change both in what they cost and what they cover.

Click here to find helpful Medicare tools and information, and compare the cost or benefits of 2013 Medicare health plans in your area.

In addition, one-on-one counseling assistance is available from the California Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program at 800.434.0222.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.