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Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Today

The annual open enrollment for Medicare starts today and the Oregon Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) Program in the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace is ready to help. Medicare annual enrollment is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Medicare is health insurance for people 65 years or older or younger than 65 with Social Security Disability Income. People living in Oregon who are 65 years or older may be eligible to sign up and find health insurance that best meets their needs. Medicare covers many medical costs, including visits to the doctor, prescription medications, and preventive care such as mammograms, colonoscopies, diabetes treatment, and blood pressure screenings.

Medicare annual enrollment for 2020 benefits runs through Dec. 7, 2019. Enroll in a Medicare Advantage (MA) or prescription drug plan (Part D) for the first time or make changes between these dates so coverage begins without interruption on Jan. 1, 2020. There is also an extended MA open enrollment period from Jan. 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020. You must be enrolled in an MA plan to use this extended open enrollment period to make any changes.

“Medicare Advantage and Part D plans are sold by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare,” said Lisa Emerson, Medicare (SHIBA) program analyst. “They can change their cost and coverage each year, so it’s important to do annual check-ups to make sure you have the coverage you need in 2020.”

There is a new Medicare plan finder tool this year, the first upgrade in a decade. The new plan finder is at https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/#/.

The finder allows users to shop and compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. The updated finder also provides people with Medicare coverage and their caregivers with a personalized experience through a mobile friendly and easy-to-read design that will help them learn about different options and select coverage that best meets their health needs. 

SHIBA provides free health insurance counseling to explain how the Medicare program works, more insurance options that work with Medicare, and help with reducing out-of-pocket costs.

SHIBA staff members, along with more than 200 certified counselors, serve many of Oregon’s more than 860,000 Medicare beneficiaries to help them understand their Medicare benefits and enrollment options. Free information and help is available by calling 1-800-722-4134 (toll-free) or visiting shiba.oregon.gov. SHIBA also publishes an annual Medicare guide, which is available online and will be available in print in mid-November. SHIBA is also advising people to protect their identity by guarding their Medicare card like they would their credit card or Social Security number. Identity theft from stolen Medicare numbers is becoming more common.

To protect against identity theft, don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone or email, or approaches you in person, unless you have given that person permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you (unless you ask them to) for your Medicare number or other personal information. Also, don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.

More information

SHIBA: To meet with a counselor, contact the toll-free SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-722-4134. You will be asked to enter your ZIP code to be connected to a program in your area. Visit https://healthcare.oregon.gov/shiba to find local help in your county, obtain a copy of the 2018 Oregon Guide to Medicare Health plans, and find Medicare education and enrollment events in your area.

Follow SHIBA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OregonSHIBA.

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