Open Enrollment for Medicare began on Oct.15 and will run until Dec. 7. Each year, this is the only time customers can change their plans with the program.
The Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program, or SHIIP, helps to provide information on different cost benefits to senior citizens throughout Medicare's enrollment period.
SHIIP has coordinators in each United States county and works with the Orange County Aging Department and the North Carolina Department of Insurance to find plans that best suit each individual's needs.
“The Department of Insurance trains and certifies volunteers who help people in their community to understand Medicare and to make good choices about the Medicare plans for themselves,” Orange County SHIIP coordinator Jeanne Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin said there are over 65 different plans available for people with Medicare and SHIIP can see as many as 600 people during the seven weeks of Open Enrollment.
She said of these 600 people, about 400 usually make changes to their plans. Chamberlin also said it's not uncommon to see people saving anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 by updating their plans.
She added that it is essential for every person on Medicare to check their plan during the seven-week period.
“There are these Medicare advantage plans that older adults can sign up for, and some of these plans have additional benefits, such as dental, vision or fitness,” Ciara Zachary, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Policy Management at UNC, said.
Zachary said she teaches classes that focus on U.S. healthcare policies, including Medicare.