Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15 – December 7

BOSTON, October 8, 2013 – Medicare open enrollment begins on October 15 and a free program can help provide health insurance information, counseling and assistance to Massachusetts residents with Medicare and their caregivers. The program is called SHINE (Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone) and it is lead in Boston by the elder services non-profit Ethos.

The SHINE Program assists elders and individuals with disabilities in understanding their Medicare and MassHealth benefits and other health insurance options. The program ensures that Massachusetts residents with Medicare and their caregivers have access to accurate, unbiased and up-to-date information about their health care options.

SHINE counselors are committed volunteers who are trained and certified by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs in many areas of health insurance, including Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D; Medigap insurance, Medicare HMOs, retiree insurance plans, prescription drug programs, Medicaid, Medicare Savings Programs (QMB, SLMB and QI), and other programs for people with limited resources.

SHINE counselors may review present coverage, provide written comparisons of plans, protect Medicare beneficiaries from paying for bills they should not pay, and prevent paying for unnecessary duplicate coverage. Counselors also help with claim forms and applications. They will make referrals when appropriate.

Average premiums for 2014 for prescription drug coverage and Medicare health plans will remain stable. People who are in the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit will enjoy approximately 53 percent discounts on covered brand name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs.

“Your health needs change from year to year and your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year too,” said Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos. “Open Enrollment is the one time of year when ALL people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.”

It is worth it to take the time to review and compare plans, but consumers don’t have to do it alone. The SHINE Program at Ethos is available to help. For more information, or to speak with a SHINE counselor, call 617.292.6211, email or visit

The SHINE Program is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in partnership with elder service agencies, social service and community based agencies and Councils on Aging. The program is partially funded by the federal agency Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Ethos is the lead agency for the SHINE program in Boston.