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Need Help? SHIBA is still here to help – even during COVID-19!

...by Donna Wells, SHIBA & Consumer Advocacy

For the more than 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries in Washington state, this is an important time of year. Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period occurs each year from October 15 to December 7. During this time, people on Medicare:

• can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan—and vice versa,

• with Original Medicare can join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan,

• with a Medicare Advantage plan can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.

Your new coverage will start January 1, 2021.

The Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program is ready to help you with all of these decisions!

SHIBA provides free, unbiased and confidential help with Medicare and other health care options to people of all ages and backgrounds across our state. We train and certify our volunteer advisors, who are available for one-on-one, in-person and phone counseling.

Instead of face-to-face counseling this year, our volunteer advisors can help you over the phone to compare prescription drug plans, Original Medicare vs Medicare Advantage plans, and other information to help you make an informed decision about what Medicare plans work best for your personal situation. If you qualify, our SHIBA advisors can also help you apply for any programs that’ll save you money on Medicare costs. Medicare is not a one-size fits all program. Each person’s needs, situation and benefits are different – and that includes spouses who may have their own unique Medicare plan.

Before you make your decision, consider the following tips:

• Review all letters and notices from your current plan as plan costs and coverage can change every year.

• Make a list of all current prescription drugs you take, the doses, and how often. Then, use the Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov to compare Part D plans.

• Review the 2021 Medicare & You handbook. You should receive it by mid-October.

• Attend a SHIBA webinar (check out our online events calendar at www.insurance.wa.gov/shiba) or make an appointment for one-on-one phone counseling with a SHIBA advisor.

For help with your Medicare questions before you sign up, call our:

• Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-562-6900 and ask to speak with a SHIBA volunteer in your local county: King, Pierce or Snohomish, or

• Contact your local SHIBA community partner directly:

o King County: Sound Generations

Phone: 206-727-6221

o Pierce County: Sound Outreach

Phone: 253-593-2111

o Snohomish County SHIBA

1-800-562-6900

You can also check out SHIBA at www.insurance.wa.gov/shiba or its Medicare webpages at www.insurance. wa.gov/medicare.