For Consumers

Questions about Medicare's annual open enrollment? SHIBA can help!

Contact Public Affairs: 360-725-7055

October 12, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It’s not too soon to start thinking about Medicare’s open enrollment period for prescription drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans.  Open enrollment takes place every year, Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

The Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) offers free help to people with Medicare questions.  “Our unbiased, statewide network of trained volunteers help people answer questions and evaluate plans, and even search for plans online,” says Insurance Commissioner, Mike Kreidler.  “We also offer assistance with Original Medicare and other Medicare-related plans.”

Before you make your decision, consider the following tips:

  • Plan costs and coverage can change every year, so carefully review all letters and notices from your current plan.
  • Make a list of all current prescription drugs you take, the doses, and how often. Then, use the Medicare Plan Finder at to compare Part D plans.
  • Review the 2016 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 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 go to and click on Medicare.


Every year, SHIBA offers free Medicare workshops in local areas throughout the state.  “These are a great way for Medicare clients to get help and the information they need to find the best options for them,” said Kreidler. To check out the event calendar, go to:

To schedule an appointment with a SHIBA volunteer:


  • Call our Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-562-6900 and ask to speak with a SHIBA volunteer in your local area; or
  • Go to:

For help with Medicare 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

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Release No. 15-44