Medicare’s open enrollment for 2020 began this week on Oct. 15 and will continue until Dec. 7, 2019. During this time period, Medicare beneficiaries may make changes to their health care and prescription drug plans, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. Except for special circumstances, this is the only time that Medicare recipients may change their insurance plans.
Massachusetts offers an excellent Medicare counseling service called SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone). The SHINE Program is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in partnership with elder service agencies, councils on aging, or public and private community-based organizations. Certified SHINE counselors help people navigate the complex Medicare insurance system. There is no charge for SHINE services in Massachusetts. Because of the complexity of Medicare, anyone attending a SHINE program is welcome to bring along a friend or family member.
The SHINE Program has scheduled special 2020 Medicare Plan Review days throughout the North Shore during the open enrollment period. Existing Medicare enrollees can make appointments to meet individually with a SHINE counselor to compare plan options for 2020 and will receive a report that explains their top three most cost-effective Medicare plan options for next year. There is no charge to attend a Medicare Plan Review day.
Advance registration at the Medicare Plan Review days is required, and attendees are asked to bring their red, white and blue Medicare cards; their current insurance cards; and their medication lists with dosage information.
In the North Shore area, the following Medicare Plan Review days have been scheduled. Please call the host agency to make an individual appointment.
Oct. 21: Rose Baker Senior Center, Gloucester, 978-281-9765
Oct. 28: Rowley Council on Aging, Rowley Public Library, 978-948-7637
Nov. 1: Phoenix Row, Haverhill, 978-372-7597
Nov. 7: Merrimac Senior Center, 978-346-9549
Nov. 8: SeniorCare, Gloucester, 978-281-1750
Nov. 12: Georgetown Senior Center, 978-352-5726
Nov. 13: Beverly Senior Center, 978-921-6017
Nov. 15: Amesbury Senior Center, 978-388-8138
Nov. 18: Merrivista, Haverhill, 978-374-2168
Nov. 19: Mission Towers, Haverhill, 978-374-2174
Nov. 22: Haverhill Council on Aging, 978-374-2390
Nov. 26: Newburyport Senior Community Center, 978-462-0430
SHINE counselors are also available throughout the year for people new to Medicare and existing enrollees. These services are available to all Massachusetts residents at no charge. Year-round SHINE counseling locations follow. Please call the host agency for scheduling and reservations.
Amesbury Council on Aging, 978-388-8138
Andover Council on Aging, 978-623-8321
Merrimack Valley Immigrant Education Center, 978-683-7316
Beverly Senior Center, 978-921-6017
Boxford Council on Aging, 978-887-3591
Essex Senior Center, 978-768-7932
Georgetown Senior Community Center, 978-352-5726
Gloucester: Rose Baker Senior Center, 978-281-9765
Gloucester: Addison Gilbert Hospital, 978-283-4001
Gloucester: SeniorCare, 978-281-1750
Groveland Council on Aging, 978-372-1101
Hamilton Council on Aging, 978-468-5595
Haverhill Council on Aging, 978-374-2390
Haverhill: Merrivista, 978-374-2168
Haverhill: Mission Towers, 978-374-2174
Haverhill: Phoenix Row, 978-372-7597
Ipswich Council on Aging, 978-356-6650
Lawrence Senior Center, 978-620-3540
Manchester-by-the-Sea Council on Aging, 978-526-7500
Merrimac Council on Aging, 978-346-9549
Methuen Council on Aging, 978-983-8825
Newbury Council on Aging, 978-462-8114
Newburyport Council on Aging, 978-462-8650
North Andover Senior Center, 978-688-9560
Rockport Council on Aging, 978-546-2573
Rowley Council on Aging, 978-948-7637
Salisbury Council on Aging, 978-462-2412
Topsfield Council on Aging, 978-887-1523
Wenham Council on Aging, 978-468-5529
West Newbury Council on Aging, 978-363-1104
If you are new to Medicare, the SHINE Program will hold an “Introduction to Medicare” workshop at the Ipswich Senior Center on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Please call 978-356-6650 for details and registration.
If you are unable to attend one of the 2020 Medicare Plan Review days or schedule an appointment with one of the SHINE counselors during their usual schedules, please contact the SHINE coordination office at the Elder Services of Merrimack Valley at 978-946-1374 to arrange for assistance with your 2020 Medicare decisions.
Tracy Arabian is the communications officer at SeniorCare Inc., a local agency on aging that serves Gloucester, Beverly, Essex, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.