For Consumers

Medicare open enrollment for 2021 starts Oct. 15

Contact Public Affairs: 360-725-7055

October 14, 2020

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Tomorrow marks the start of Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period – also called the Annual Election Period, which runs each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people on Medicare can: 

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa.
  • Drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, if you have 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. To keep everyone safe during COVID-19, SHIBA advisors will provide one-on-one counseling appointments by phone or online by video.

For more than 40 years, SHIBA has provided free, unbiased and confidential help with Medicare and other health care options to people of all ages and backgrounds across our state. 

“Our SHIBA volunteer advisors and staff provide consumers, even during the pandemic, a tremendous service,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Our volunteer advisors can help you compare plans and other information to help you make an informed decision about what Medicare plans work best for your personal situation. And if you qualify, they can even 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, including spouses who may have their own unique Medicare plan. So before you make a 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 2021 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. 
  • Attend an online SHIBA webinar. You can find one using our online calendar.

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

Find more information about Medicare and the SHIBA program: