Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Begins Sunday

Sunday, Oct. 15 marks the start of Medicare’s open enrollment for prescription drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans. Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) are ready to help you with all your Medicare questions during open enrollment, which ends Dec. 7.

“I encourage people to take advantage of this free, statewide service,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Navigating the different Medicare plan options can be overwhelming during open enrollment. And just like in years past, some Medicare plans will change. Our statewide network of trained SHIBA volunteers will work with you to answer your questions, search for plans online and help you evaluate them.”

Before you make your decision, consider these tips:

  • Plan costs and coverage can change every year, so review all letters and notices your current plan sends you.
  • Make a list of all of the prescription drugs you take, the doses, and how often you take them. Then, use the Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov to compare Part D plans.
  • Review the 2018 Medicare & You handbook. You should receive a hard copy in the mail by mid-October.
  • If you have questions, call SHIBA at 1-800-562-6900 before you sign up.
  • If you’re on a limited income and need help paying for prescription drugs, you might qualify for the “Extra Help” program. To see if you qualify, contact SHIBA to learn more about the program and get help applying.

Every year, SHIBA offers free, unbiased Medicare workshops in local areas throughout the state.  Find an event in your area.

To schedule your one-on-one counseling appointment with a SHIBA volunteer, Monday through Friday:

  • Call our Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-562-6900 and ask to speak with a SHIBA volunteer in your area.
  • Visit our website  to find the phone number for your local SHIBA office.

For help with Medicare in other languages, call:

  • Spanish, Medicare, 1-800-633-4227
  • Spanish, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, 1-866-783-2645
  • Korean, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, 1-800-582-4259
  • Chinese, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, 1-800-582-4218
  • Vietnamese, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, 1-800-582-4336

SHIBA provides free, unbiased help with health care choices through a network of 400 volunteers statewide. Last year, SHIBA helped more than 83,000 Washington residents make decisions about their health care and reached an additional 108,000 consumers through outreach and education.