Free assistance available to Medicare plan shoppers
TAMPA - The Florida Department of Elder Affairs' SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) Program is available to provide free, unbiased help for Florida Medicare beneficiaries as they evaluate their health care options during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. During the annual enrollment period, which runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to make changes to their Medicare Prescription Drug or Medicare Advantage plans. SHINE encourages beneficiaries to review their benefits each year for a variety of reasons. Individuals often experience subtle changes in their health over the course of the year, and these changes may alter the kind of care they need. This could directly affect their need for more or less health insurance, the types of prescription drugs they require or their access to particular doctors or pharmacies. Health changes can also increase costs which can be particularly critical for Medicare beneficiaries on fixed incomes. SHINE volunteer counselors through West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging, Inc. provide free, one-on-one insurance counseling and information on Medicare options and prescription drug assistance for elders, their families and caregivers. Beneficiaries are encouraged to act quickly to assure a smooth transition into the 2014 benefit year. To receive help from SHINE to review and enroll in a plan, individuals may visit designated SHINE counseling sites, attend enrollment events in their local communities or contact trained SHINE volunteer counselors at (800) 963-5337. For a listing of SHINE counseling sites and enrollment events, visit www.floridashine.org.