Free Counseling Available to Seniors During Medicare Open Enrollment

by Kenyonn Demps

Medicare’s Annual Election Period is now in full swing (October 15 through December 7) and many people, including those new to Medicare, find themselves uncertain about their Medicare options and the processes for enrollment. I serve as the ElderSource Program Coordinator for a Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ program called SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders). SHINE trains volunteers to give free and unbiased Medicare counseling to Florida’s seniors and their caregivers. Our program provides educational presentations, informational materials and the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a trained Medicare counselor. ElderSource is a nonprofit organization that offers seniors, adults with disabilities and their caregivers information and resources on a variety of aging issues.

We are encouraging Medicare beneficiaries to make a plan—review your costs and coverage and take the necessary steps to ensure your healthcare needs are met in 2015. Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers are faced with an overwhelming array of healthcare choices and may need guidance on Medicare issues, supplemental policies, prescription resources, and Medicaid coverage. Here in Duval County, there are just over 100,000 residents who are age 65 or older, SHINE is a vital resource.

SHINE volunteers are here to assist all Medicare beneficiaries during the Medicare Annual Election Period to compare and, if necessary, help people enroll in Medicare health or prescription drug plans. We provide counseling to residents throughout our seven service area — Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. John’s, and Volusia counties.

Interested individuals are invited to visit our website at www.FloridaSHINE.org for a listing of local events. Individuals can call the ElderSource HelpLine toll-free at 1-888-242-4464 and ask to speak with a SHINE counselor.

Sincerely,

Kenyonn Demps

SHINE Program Coordinator

ElderSource, Northeast Florida Area Agency on Aging

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