For Consumers

Medicare 2019 open enrollment starts Oct. 15 - Get help in your local community

Contact Public Affairs: 360-725-7055

October 11, 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Medicare’s 2019 annual open enrollment period for prescription drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans starts Oct. 15, 2018 and runs through Dec. 7. The Washington state Insurance Commissioner’s Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program is ready to provide Medicare counseling help in your local community.

“Navigating Medicare plan options can be overwhelming,” says Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Our trained SHIBA volunteer advisors in your community can answer your Medicare questions and help you search for plans online that work best for your personal situation. I encourage people to take advantage of this free, unbiased service,” said Kreidler. 

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 Medicare's Plan Finder ( to compare Part D plans. 
  • Review the 2019 Medicare & You handbook. You should receive it 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 you 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.

SHIBA offers free, unbiased Medicare open enrollment workshops in local areas throughout the state.  To see if there’s an event in your area, visit SHIBA's event calendar.

To schedule a 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 local area; or
  • Call a local SHIBA office.

For help with Medicare in Spanish, call: 

  • Spanish, Medicare, 1-800-633-4227 
  • Spanish, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, 1-866-783-2645 

Medicare also offers help in other languages ( than English and Spanish.