SHIBA Can Help As Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Starts

insurance commissionerMedicare’s open enrollment period for prescription drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans starts this Saturday, Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. The Washington state insurance commissioner’s Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program is geared up to provide help in your local community.

“Just like the past few years, many Medicare plans are changing again this year,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Open enrollment is the time to review your existing coverage as well as look at other plans that might better meet your needs.”

SHIBA offers free help to people with Medicare questions. “Our unbiased, statewide-network of trained volunteers help people answer questions and evaluate plans, and even search for plans online,” says Kreidler.  “We also offer assistance with Original Medicare and other Medicare-related plans.”

Before you make your decision, consider these tips:

  • Plan costs and coverage can change every year, so carefully review all letters and notices your current plan sends you.
  • Make a list of all current prescription drugs you take, the doses, and how often. Then, use the Plan Finder at to compare Part D plans.
  • Review the 2017 Medicare & You handbook. You should receive it by mid-October.
  • If you have questions, call SHIBA at 800-562-6900 before you sign up.
  • If you have limited income and need help paying for prescription drugs, you might qualify for the “Extra Help” program. To see if you qualify, SHIBA can tell you more about the program and help you apply.

Every year, SHIBA offers free, unbiased Medicare workshops in local areas throughout the state.  To see if there’s an event in your area, go to:

To schedule an appointment with a SHIBA volunteer:

  • Call our Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-562-6900 and ask to speak with a SHIBA volunteer in your local area; or
  • Go to: