For Consumers

Medicare's open enrollment starts Oct. 15 - Find help in your community

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October 14, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash.- Medicare’s open enrollment period for prescription drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans is Oct. 15 – Dec. 7. Local help is available in your community through the Washington state Insurance Commissioner’s Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA).

”Many Medicare plans are changing this year,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Now is this time to shop for the best plan that meets your needs. Our Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program can help you understand your choices and your rights.”

To enroll in a new Medicare plan or to change your coverage, you must contact Medicare. Washington’s new Health Benefit Exchange – – is only for people under age 65. It’s against the law for someone who knows you have Medicare to sell you an Exchange plan.  

SHIBA offers free help to people with Medicare questions. “Our unbiased volunteers in your community can answer your questions and help you search for plans online,” said Kreidler.

Before you make your Medicare decision, consider the following tips:

  • Plan costs and coverage will likely change every year, so carefully review all letters and notices from your insurer.

  • Make a list of all current prescription drugs you take, the doses, and how often. Then, use the Medicare Plan Finder ( to compare prescription drug (Part D) plans.

  • Review the 2014 Medicare & You handbook. You should receive it in the mail by mid-October.

  • If you have questions, call a SHIBA volunteer at 1-800-562-6900 or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) before you sign up.

  • If you have limited income and need help paying for prescription drugs, check out Medicare’s “Extra Help” program ( To see if you qualify, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit

“Whatever you do, don’t wait until the end of the enrollment period to get help,” added Kreidler. “Call our Insurance Consumer Hotline today at 1-800-562-6900 and ask to schedule an appointment with a SHIBA volunteer in your area.”

To attend a free Medicare workshop in your local area, go to:  

For help 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

  • Or ask a trusted friend or relative for help.