Montanans that currently receive Medicare Advantage insurance through New West will need to pick a new plan soon if they want to continue to receive Advantage coverage though the beginning of 2017.

"Between Ravalli, Missoula and Lake County we're talking about 3,500 people who need to make this election," Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Spokesman Mike Fierberg said. "It would be very advantageous to all of them to make the election prior to December 7th which is the end of the open enrollment deadline."

Those that choose a new plan later can still do so, but there will be a gap in Advantage coverage.

"In the interim you will be reverted to Medicare A and B coverage, not that that's bad, it's very good coverage but you will be subjected to co-pay and deductibles from the first of the year in the the Medicare A and B system," Fierburg said. "Then if you elect to go up to medicare advantage plan,which for example might begin March first, you have to start all over again to meet new deductibles."

Folks in Missoula County have a choice of Medicare Advantage plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program offers a toll-free hotline for Montana insurance questions at 1 800 551-3191.