Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the annual election period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can:
- Switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa.
- Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, if you’re on original Medicare.
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
The Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program — part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner — is ready to help with all of these decisions. Due to the pandemic, your local SHIBA advisors will still provide one-on-one counseling appointments over the phone or through online video. However, some locations may also offer face-to-face counseling with extra precautions.
The Edmonds Waterfront Center (formerly the Edmonds Senior Center) is the sponsoring agency for SHIBA for Snohomish and Skagit counties.
SHIBA provides free, unbiased and confidential help with Medicare and other health care options to people of all ages and backgrounds across Washington state.
“Our SHIBA volunteer advisors and staff provide consumers a really valuable service,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Our volunteer advisors can help you compare plans for 2022 and other information to help you make an informed decision about what Medicare plans work best for your personal situation. They can even see if you qualify and help you apply for any programs to 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. So before you make a final decision, consider these tips:
- Plan costs and coverage can change every year, so review and keep all letters and notices your current plan sends you.
- List all of the 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 2022 Medicare & You handbook. You should receive it in the mail by mid-October.
- If you have questions, call SHIBA at 1-800-562-6900 before you sign up.
- Find an online SHIBA webinar at www.insurance.wa.gov/shiba.
To schedule your counseling appointment with a SHIBA volunteer, Monday through Friday:
- Find the phone number for the local SHIBA office near you at www.insurance.wa.gov/find-local-shiba-office
- Contact the program online at www.insurance.wa.gov/contact-washington-state-shiba-program
- Call 1-800-562-6900 and ask to speak with a SHIBA volunteer in your area.
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