- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is reminding seniors and their families that the open enrollment period is moving up this year for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans.

Seniors have until Dec. 7 _ not New Year’s Eve as in the past _ to join, drop or switch health care and drug plans for 2012.

But they can start making their choices this Saturday, Oct. 15, instead of waiting until mid-November as in previous years. The change will allow more time for processing.

Sebelius kicks off open enrollment Wednesday at a senior center in Hershey, Pa.

Medicare recommends that all seniors review their coverage during open enrollment, since important insurance details can change. Nearly 30 million beneficiaries are signed up in Medicare Advantage and prescription plans.

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