The holiday season is here again. But amidst the hustle and bustle of gift-giving and family get-togethers, seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D should carve out time to consider whether they want to stay with their current prescription drug plan.

Unlike traditional government programs, where there’s just one plan for everyone, Medicare Part D is structured so that insurance companies must compete for customers. Knowing that beneficiaries have the option to switch means that insurers have to make their plans attractive or they will lose customers. The record shows that this results in more choices and lower costs.

In 2003, lawmakers estimated seniors would pay an average monthly premium for prescription drug coverage in 2009 of more than $44. But according to government officials, their average monthly premium next year for the standard plan will be just $28.

But some drug plans are raising their prices and changing the specific drugs available. So every senior who is enrolled — even those that are happy with their plans ,,— should be sure to seize this once-a-year opportunity to review their coverage.

Web savvy seniors can do this is through Medicare’s website at There, using the “Medicare Plan Finder,” seniors can compare plans based on price, drug coverage, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Seniors without web access can always call 1-800-Medicare and speak with a customer service representative.