Once a year, an important window of opportunity opens for Medicare beneficiaries and those about to enroll in the government’s health insurance program for older Americans.

The Medicare open enrollment period, started October 15 and runs through December 17.

During this window, new enrollments are allowed and current recipients can make changes to their plans.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 68 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare.

The coverage comes in two primary forms: traditional Medicare for anyone 65+ older and Medicare Advantage which sometimes offers additional services such as routine vision, hearing and dental care.

On top of that there are “parts” – Medicare Parts A, B, C and D.

Assistance is available to help people understand and navigate the process of enrolling or updating their plans.

Be aware of Medicare scams. Scammers may try to reach people by phone, email, text message, social media or by visiting your home.

Only give your Medicare number to your doctor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer or other trusted healthcare provider.

Do not click links in text messages or emails about COVID-19 from unknown sources and hang up on unsolicited phone calls offering COVID-19 tests or supplies.

For more info, see the government site at medicare.gov, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (shipacenter.org), Medicare Rights Center (medicarerights.org) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service (cms.gov)