Free counseling for medicare open enrollment


SARASOTA- There is just about a week left in Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period and local counselors want to make sure you have the right plan for your health needs.

When it comes to health insurance, SHINE Volunteer Jim Larkin says asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of.

“Healthcare and health insurance is a complex issue,” Larkin said. “People who don’t deal with it everyday will be confused.”

Volunteers with the Area Agency on Aging in Southwest Florida are here to help.

“SHINE counselors go through continuous training,” Larkin said. “To keep up with all the changes in the law, in the coverages, and in the provider networks.”

Larkin says most seniors make an appointment after getting a letter telling them their rates for next year are changing.

“And there are ways around it,” Larkin said. “They can either switch their plan, they can go to their doctor and say this is what I’ve got is there any way to change my drug mixture, they can go to their pharmacist and get information.”

Seniors can also change their coverage if their health needs changed in the past year.

“It allows people to review their plans,” Larkin said. “Talk to their doctors to see what the future business plans of their providers are and to make changes if necessary.”

Even if you’re happy with your insurance, it can still be helpful to review it.

“There might be a way to save even more money,” Larkin said. “There’s no obligation to do so, but it’s always a good idea. It doesn’t take that long, you spend 45 min doing it, it might be worth your while.”

If you need to make an appointment with a volunteer you can call 866-413-5337.

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Samantha Sonner
Multimedia Journalist Samantha Sonner comes to the Suncoast from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a reporter and host for KRWG TV/FM reporting on local politics, immigration, and border issues. Samantha grew up on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she worked at WAER, the campus NPR station and interned at television stations in Central New York. Samantha is excited for the Florida Sunshine, and to be living so close to fantastic beaches. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at


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