Journeys Fall/Winter 2016 - Page 11

SHIIP Helps Sort Out the Confusion of Medicare Photo:ZimmyTWS, Getty Images ​ uman Services offers FREE, H unbiased assistance during Medicare Open Enrollment I If you’re 65 or older, chances are you feel anxiety as Medicare Open Enrollment deadlines approach. Until December 7, those who qualify for Medicare have the opportunity to change plans or enroll for the first time.  The struggle to find the right Medicare plan is very real for Cabarrus County resident Sandie Burris, who helped her mother enroll in Medicare a few years ago. “I learned very quickly that Medicare isn’t one size fits all,” Burris said. “There were multiple plans with varying options and it became confusing very quickly.” Her mother had a fixed income, lots of medications and co-diagnosis. These compounding factors made signing up for Medicare overwhelming. While taking part in a line dancing class at the Cabarrus County Senior Center in Concord, Burris learned of the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). SHIIP stations counselors across the state to provide free, unbiased advice and guidance and help enrollees navigate options on supplements, premiums, deductibles and many other aspects of Medicare. “The counselors took their time and answered all of our questions,” said Burris. “They were so knowledgeable. Since they are unaffiliated with insurance companies, we knew they were providing us unbiased assistance based on our personal needs.” Now that Burris qualifies, she’s ready for Medicare Open Enrollment and plans to, once again, see a SHIIP counselor. SHIIP counselors recommend a policy review every open enrollment period to ensure residents receive the best policies with the most reasonable premiums. Plan effectiveness can be impacted by the variety of supplements available through Medicare, an ever-changing list of policy options and changes in health conditions. n For more information or to schedule an appointment for SHIIP counseling, call 704-920-1400, option 7, then press option 2. 9