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Every year, the arrival of autumn brings falling leaves, cooler days and nights, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Medicare Open Enrollment.

Medicare beneficiaries or prospective beneficiaries have the option of signing up for Medicare health and prescription drug benefit plans, including Medicare Advantage, during Open Enrollment.  If Medicare consumers are already signed up, but have needs that have changed or they are not satisfied with the plans they are in, now is the time to examine  new options.

It’s always a good idea to for every Medicare beneficiary to check their plan and make sure it still covers their medications in 2015 at the right price, as plans change their preferred pharmacies and providers or your needs may have changed.

Medicare Open Enrollment Poster-page-001

First time Medicare beneficiaries have an Open Enrollment period that begins three months before their 65th birthday and ends three months after their birthday. For people about to celebrate their sixty-fifth birthday or have recently turned sixty-five, and are considering signing on to Medicare, it is understandable to be intimidated by all the options and not know where to begin.

Luckily, here in Massachusetts, we have a great, no cost, service available at the Commonwealth’s 349  local Councils on Aging or senior centers.  It’s the SHINE program, or Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, and was pioneered right here in Massachusetts. SHINE counselors are rigorously trained volunteers who know everything there is to know about Medicare health care benefits, and are available to provide free health insurance information and assistance to Massachusetts residents with Medicare and their caregivers.

Elder Affairs Secretary Hartstein launches Open Enrollment at Boston SHINE.

Elder Affairs Secretary Hartstein launches Open Enrollment at Boston Shine.

Since the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Medicare beneficiaries have seen a real reduction in their out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses because the doughnut hole – the spending gap between their Medicare drug coverage and the amount individuals must spend before full coverage begins again – is shrinking.

In 2015, beneficiaries will save 55% on brand-name drugs and 35% on generics. And Extra Help is available to eligible individuals for even greater savings.

SHINE counselors offer beneficiaries all  the objective information they need to understand their choices and make a good one. SHINE counseling is completely free and confidential.  To find a local SHINE counselor, please call 1-800-243-4636, or check out our website at: www.800AgeInfo.

Written By:


Secretary of the Office of Elder Affairs

Communications Director, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

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