Letter: Medicare Open Enrollment: Need Help Figuring It Out?

Many people, including those new to Medicare, are uncertain about their Medicare options and the processes for enrollment. Medicare’s annual election period is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, and the local Area Agency on Aging has a specific program through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs to help seniors understand their options and make the best choice for them.

The program, called SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders), has trained volunteers to give free and unbiased Medicare counseling to Florida’s seniors. Our program provides educational presentations, informational materials and an opportunity to speak one-on-one with a trained Medicare counselor.

We are encouraging Medicare beneficiaries to make a plan — review your costs and coverage and take the necessary steps to ensure your healthcare needs are met in 2016. Medicare beneficiaries are faced with an overwhelming array of healthcare choices and may need guidance on Medicare issues, supplemental policies, prescription resources and advantage plans. Here in Palm Beach County, more than 284,500 residents (over 20 percent) are Medicare beneficiaries, and SHINE is a vital resource.

SHINE has a special opportunity to assist all Medicare beneficiaries during the Medicare annual election period to compare and, if necessary, enroll in Medicare health or prescription drug plans. Throughout our service area of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties, we are hosting Medicare presentations where individuals can receive in-person education and get more information about the annual election period.

Interested individuals are invited to visit www.floridashine.org for a listing of local events. Call the Area Agency on Aging’s helpline toll-free at (866) 684-5885 and ask to make an appointment with a certified SHINE counselor.

Samantha Howell, SHINE Program Liaison Area Agency on Aging