Department on Aging assists during Medicare open enrollment

SPRINGFIELD – Older adults looking to change their Medicare plan when open enrollment starts on Oct. 15 can receive free assistance through the Illinois Department on Aging’s Senior Health Insurance Program.

There are six sites in the Sauk Valley area that are partners with the program, commonly known as SHIP.

“It can be overwhelming and confusing to try to figure out which Medicare plan best meets your needs, and unfortunately making the wrong choice can lead to high costs,” said Paula Basta, the department’s director, adding that SHIP counselors are available both in person and remotely. “I encourage anyone with questions about Medicare to make an appointment with a certified counselor for peace of mind that your insurance needs are in the hands of a trained expert who has your best interest at heart.”

The enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. People already enrolled have a chance to review their coverage and switch if they choose to.

The SHIP counseling network includes 1,100 trained and certified counselors. They can answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Supplement, long-term care insurance, Medicare HMOs, private fee-for-service and other insurance. The counselors can also assist with signup questions.

For information on the location of SHIP counselors and other Department on Aging programs, call 800-252-8966 between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Sauk Valley SHIP sites

Carroll County Senior Services, 306 N. Main st, Mt. Carroll. 815-244-1800.

Lee Council on Aging, 100 W. Second St, Dixon. 815-288-9236. Counselors on site 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., appointments encouraged.

Mt. Morris Senior Center, 9 E Front St., Mt. Morris. 815-734-6335.

Rock River Senior Center, 810 S 10th St., Oregon. 815-732-3252.

Northwestern Illinois Center for Independent Living, 412 Locus St, Sterling. 815-625-7860.

Whiteside County Senior Center, 1207 W. Ninth St., Sterling. 815-622-9230.