Every year at this time, the Tampa Bay Times sets out to help readers better understand Medicare, the national program primarily designed to provide health insurance for Americans 65 and over.
The annual enrollment period, running from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, is an important time both for retirees just entering the program and those who have been enrolled for years. Medicare is massive and complex, but immensely beneficial for the 61 million people who rely on it for health care. So don’t be afraid to seek help; it’s out there in many forms.
The Times guide explains how Medicare is set up, helps you compare options available in the Tampa Bay area, and points the way toward help, including free, one-on-one assistance.
Click on the links below to get started:
• A MEDICARE TUTORIAL: What you need to know as open enrollment begins — from Medicare basics to tips on how to best use the program to your advantage.
• SHOPPING AROUND: Our chart lets you compare the 50 Medicare Advantage plans with drug coverage available for 2020 in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
• PRESCRIPTIONS: Another chart compares standalone plans available in Florida under Medicare’s Part D program for prescription drugs.
• HELP IS HERE: A state program called Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, or SHINE, holds information sessions around the area and has 500 volunteers across Florida to take questions — in person, online and over the phone.
• PERSPECTIVE: Someone in her household is turning 65, so Medicare pitches are starting arrive in the mail and Medicare pitchmen are showing up at the door. Times columnist Michele Miller weighs in.