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State program offers free help, fraud prevention tips for Medicare open enrollment

Oregon Department of Human Services

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — With open enrollment for the 2023 Medicare plan year beginning Saturday, Oct. 15, through Dec. 7, the Oregon Department of Human Services wants Oregonians to know about free help available, including the Oregon Guide to Medicare Insurance Plans.

The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program within the ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities is available to help Oregonians understand their Medicare options and benefits, provide enrollment guidance and help people detect and avoid Medicare scams.

Oregonians who need help navigating Medicare open enrollment are encouraged to call SHIBA at 800-722-4134 (toll-free) or learn more by visiting the SHIBA website at The 2023 Oregon Guide to Medicare Insurance Plans will be available on the SHIBA website on Oct. 18. This year’s enrollment is especially important as recently passed legislation will lower Medicare costs for some. 

“With new changes to Medicare through the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s important that people understand how these changes may affect their benefits. SHIBA certified counselors can help people make informed decisions to choose the plan that works best for them,” said Jane-ellen Weidanz, who oversees SHIBA as APD Long Term Services and Supports Administrator. 

SHIBA counselors have a long track record in helping Oregonians. Last year SHIBA counselors conducted more than 16,000 one-on-one appointments in person, over the phone and virtually to help people with Medicare questions.  Among the calls received during last year’s open enrollment period, there were more than 700 reports of Medicare scams or fraudulent marketing tactics. Questions Oregonians had included what to do after being wrongfully signed up for a plan or being charged for services that weren’t provided. 

SHIBA certified counselors can help people report scams to Medicare and educate people on how to avoid Medicare scams or fraud. “Our No. 1 tip for fraud prevention is for people to keep their Medicare number safe  ̶  do not give it out to anyone who calls you about Medicare. You do not need to provide your Medicare ID number to get information about plans.” said Weidanz.  

About the Oregon Department of Human Services

The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve well-being and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity.

About the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program

The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program is a statewide network of certified counselors volunteering in their communities to help all Oregonians make educated Medicare decisions. SHIBA offers free, objective, confidential and local one-on-one health insurance counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their families.

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Barney Lerten

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