It’s Time to get Ready for Medicare Open Enrollment

Submitted by San Juan County SHIBA volunteers.

Medicare beneficiaries have an opportunity each year between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 to review their insurance coverage and make sure that their current plans will be the right ones for them in the coming year.

Why should you do this? Because your health may have changed or your plan may be different for next year or there may be new plans available to you.

How can you prepare for open enrollment? First, understand what insurance you have. To find out, look at your insurance cards to see what coverage you have and who provides it or go to and log in to find out what coverage you are enrolled in.

Next, learn what your current plans will look like next year. The plans send you information each October on how their coverage will change next year. You can also look at the “Medicare and You” booklet which Medicare sends out each year.

To find out if there is a plan that may be better for you, you can use the health plan finder on There is a YouTube video that walks you through how to use the plan finder. To use the plan finder you will need to have a list of your prescription medications with their full name (including any letters that follow the name), the prescribed dosage and how much you take each day. If you log into your Medicare account on the website then the information about prescriptions you have filled this year will already be there.

Do you find all of this information confusing and hard to understand? Volunteers with SHIBA, the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors, are here to help you. In San Juan County, there are SHIBA volunteers on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Island to help you. If you would like to speak with a SHIBA volunteer email us at or call 360-376-5892 and give us your name, the island you live on, and your email address or phone number and we will have one of our trained SHIBA volunteers contact you. The SHIBA program is overseen by the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner. SHIBA volunteers provide free, unbiased and confidential counseling assistance. In San Juan County SHIBA is sponsored by the Inter Island Healthcare Foundation.