SHINE offers help to seniors

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) and Medicare Advantage Plans (MA) open enrollment period is just a few days away (Oct. 15 through Dec. 7), so now is the time for Florida seniors to review their current health care and prescription drug coverage.

The Florida SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program is reminding Medicare beneficiaries to carefully evaluate their health care needs and to seek assistance in making any necessary changes during this open enrollment period. This is for Medicare beneficiaries and is not to be confused with the Affordable Healthcare Marketplace.

For marketplace information and referrals, call the Florida Elder Helpline at 800-963-5337.

With so many options available among Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans, it is important for seniors to understand what options are available to them and the cost of those options.

Medicare beneficiaries who have questions or concerns about their health care and prescription drug plans have a local place to turn to for objective help. Specially trained SHINE volunteer counselors provide unbiased information and assistance at no cost to Florida seniors at many locations in Alachua County.

If you cannot get to one of the SHINE locations, or if you prefer telephone contact, you may request a phone appointment. Call the Elder Helpline at 800-963-5337 to identify SHINE locations in your area or to be connected to a SHINE counselor in your county. Seniors also can visit online at to find SHINE sites.

Individuals interested in comparing plans should be ready with important information about their health and prescription drug coverage. To provide the best assistance, SHINE volunteers need a list of medications the individual takes and any notices from an existing plan (i.e., Annual Notice of Change), Social Security or Medicare about changes to costs and coverage for next year. Seniors also will need to bring their Medicare card.

SHINE is a free service of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and managed locally by Elder Options in Gainesville. SHINE provides unbiased Medicare information and counseling at no cost to Florida seniors.

For more information or to learn how you can volunteer, call the Elder Helpline or visit the SHINE website.

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