Still time to make Medicare changes

Submitted by the Statewide Health Insurance Benefit Advisers

The 2021 open enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries runs through Dec. 7 for changes that will be effective Jan. 1, 2021. Reviewing your Medicare coverage each year is very important and could save you as much as $2000 in the cost of your prescription drugs.

Otherwise, you could find yourself enrolled in a plan that does not work with your local pharmacy, or you may be unpleasantly surprised to discover that your premiums have doubled or tripled or a medication that you need may no longer be covered by your plan. Your health may have changed and you now need medications that you never took before or there may be a new plan available that is a better fit for you than the plan you currently have. These are all reasons for doing a Medicare “check-up” during open enrollment.

Open enrollment is the only time that most people can change their prescription drug coverage or enroll and disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan. People with Medicare Supplement coverage (Medigaps) can change from one Medigap plan to another or from one insurance company to another at any time during the year.

Open enrollment is a little different this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. SHIBA volunteers are assisting clients over the phone, through email and via Zoom rather than meeting in person at their office or the library.

You can also call the SHIBA office at 360-376-5892. A recorded message will give you phone numbers as well as these email addresses for contacting your local SHIBA volunteers. To call the nearest SHIBA, located at Island Hospital in Anacortes, at 360-299-4212 or email

SHIBA, the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors, is operated under the auspices of the Washington Department of Insurance. Our volunteers provide free, confidential, unbiased Medicare insurance assistance.