Act now! The current open enrollment period for Medicare continues through Dec. 7. This is the annual period when you can enroll, review or make changes to your Medicare, including your prescription drug plan, known as Part D.
If you are comfortable using a computer, you can visit the Medicare website, https://www.medicare.gov, to check for your drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan to see what changes have been made. You can click the link “Find health and drug plans” on the main page to find this information. You will be asked for your ZIP code first, which is important for finding the plans you will need.
When choosing a Part D plan, Medicare Today, a nonprofit health care coalition, advises seniors to:
Make a list. Talk to your doctor about your current prescriptions and any expected changes. Make a complete list of all your expected medicines for 2018.
Check coverage. Use Medicare’s Plan Finder, www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan, to make sure the medicines you need are covered by the plan you select.
Check location. Make sure your preferred pharmacy is in your plan’s network.
Know your costs. Compare premiums, copays and deductibles of plans to help keep your out-of-pocket costs low.
Read the reviews. Look at the plan’s rating to see how other seniors have rated them on customer service, patient safety and other concerns.
To sign up for Medicare or to change your plan, call 800-633-4227 or visit www.medicare.gov.
There is an abundance of Medicare information on the website, but not all older people know how to use the internet.
This is where SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisers) volunteers can provide assistance. Volunteers, trained by the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, can explain the various parts of Medicare.
The service is free and not affiliated with any Medicare Advantage or drug plans. SHIBA volunteers can assist you with the Medicare website to help you find the right drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan.
If you are unsure about your decisions, you can make an appointment with SHIBA, 425-513-1900, to help you evaluate your choices.
SHIBA will have events at these locations:
Camano Community Center, 606 Arrowhead Road — Nov. 21.
East County Senior Center, 276 Sky River Parkway, Monroe — Nov. 16.
Edmonds Senior Center, 220 Railroad Ave. — Nov. 30.
Everett Goodwill Job Training Center, 210 SW Everett Mall Way — Nov. 17.
Ken Baxter Senior Center, 514 Delta Ave., Marysville — Nov. 29.
Mukilteo Library, 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd. — Dec. 4.
Snohomish Library, 311 Maple Ave., Snohomish — Nov. 20.
Verdant Health Commission, 4710 196th St. SW, Lynnwood — Nov. 27 and Dec. 6.