Time to Review Your Medicare Choices

Friday, October 13, 1 p.m., Orcas Senior Center

Tuesday, October 17, 2:30 p.m., Orcas Public Library

— from Pegi Groundwater —

You may be spending too much money to get the health coverage you need. The Medicare coverage choices you made in the past may not be your best choice for 2018 for many different reasons. Come to one of the two free public presentations this month by trained SHIBA volunteers. Join us at the Orcas Senior Center on Friday, October 13 at 1 p.m. or at the Orcas Public Library on Tuesday, October 17 at 2:30 p.m. to learn what your 2018 coverage options are in San Juan County.

Every year many Medicare insurance companies change the premiums they charge and the deductibles they require you to pay. Medicare prescription drug companies (Medicare Part D) change the list of their covered drugs, the rate they reimburse for specific drugs, their deductibles, and their contracts with pharmacies. In addition, in most years, one or more Medicare insurance plans leave San Juan County, and new plans are introduced. These changes affect how much you will pay for health care.

Your health needs may also have changed. Your doctor may have changed your medications or prescribed new ones for you or a change in your health may require you to use more healthcare services than you needed in the past. All of these changes could mean that the insurance you had in 2017 may not be the best choice for you in 2018. You may also be spending too much money to get the coverage you want.

Each year, Medicare beneficiaries are given seven weeks, between October 15 and December 7, to review their Medicare choices and make adjustments that take effect in January of the following year. Understanding how all of these changes affect you and whether you should make changes can be very difficult and SHIBA volunteers are here to help you figure that out.

SHIBA volunteers who operate through the offices of the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner and provide free, unbiased, confidential counseling assistance on Orcas Island. You can arrange an appointment to meet with one of them by calling 360-376-2561. Island Hospital has sponsored the SHIBA volunteers in San Juan County for the past 25 years and the Orcas Medical Center (now the University of Washington Orcas Medical Center) has donated office space for SHIBA volunteers to provide confidential counseling sessions on Orcas Island. You can call 360-376-2561 to set up a confidential counseling session with one of our SHIBA volunteers.

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