The amount of information concerning Medicare, supplemental plans and prescription drug coverage can be overwhelming. We have put together five tips to help simplify the open enrollment process:

  1. Be aware of the deadline. Medicare’s Open Enrollment period occurs once a year and is the time when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage. Open Enrollment starts October 15th and continues through December 7th. Plan changes go into effect on January 1, 2018.
  2. Organize your paperwork. Before doing anything else, gather your Medicare card, any information about your current Medicare plan, and make a list of any prescription drug medications you are taking. Your pharmacy can also print a list of your current medications for you.
  3. Review your current coverage. Read through the information from your current plan about any changes to that plan for 2018. Carefully evaluate any changes for 2018 for the cost of your prescription medications, deductibles and co-pays.
  4. Start early. Start this process as soon as possible to leave time for additional research and questions. Medicare has a toll-free number 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) you can call and have questions answered. Medicare’s website,, is also a resource for frequently asked questions.
  5. Consider making a SHINE appointment. Mystic Valley Elder Services coordinates our regional SHINE program (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone…on Medicare). SHINE counselors are experts on Medicare, MassHealth, and supplemental plans. Counselors can meet with you one-on-one to go over your options. The advice is free and unbiased and the appointments are conveniently located at your local senior center. To make an appointment, contact your local senior center directly. For appointments at the regional SHINE office at Mystic Valley Elder Services in Malden contact 781-388-4845.

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