Medicare / SHIBA

Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA)

The Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement sponsors and manages the Whatcom County Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program. SHIBA is a free and unbiased service of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. The SHIBA program utilizes a statewide network of trained volunteer counselors who educate consumers about their Medicare options and rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

•Evaluating and comparing Medicare health/drug insurance plans
•Original Medicare + Medicare preventative benefits
•Medicare supplement coverage options
•Medicare prescription drug plan options
•Medicare Savings Programs
•Prescription Assistance Programs
•Medicare rights and protections
•Assisting with filing Medicare complaints
•Fraud and abuse prevention. SHIBA is Washington state’s Senior Medicare Patrol project. We can help clients prevent, detect and report Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse.
In Whatcom County, SHIBA volunteers are available to communicate with clients by telephone, face-to-face during outreach events, during in-person appointments, and over email. Our volunteers can help Medicare beneficiaries understand their options and make informed decisions about their coverage. SHIBA volunteers can also refer clients who do not receive Medicare to other Free / Low-Cost Insurance options.

To request an appointment, please first complete the 2017 MCR Planfinder Worksheet and then visit our Contact page for information about how to get in touch.

We highly recommend bringing Social Security Administration statements, Medicare plan information, all health insurance cards, and current list of medications with dosages and amounts you take (a pharmacy print out works great). This information helps us better assist you.

If you potentially qualify for Medicare financial programs like a Medicare Savings Program or Extra Help (help with prescription drug costs), please bring copies of your household’s gross income, asset information, and most recent bank statements.

Find a listing of statewide SHIBA locations by county on the web or call the Office of the Insurance Commissioner hotline at 1-800-562-6900. A representative will help direct you to the SHIBA office in your area.
Even if you are happy with your current health and drug coverage, Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period is the time to review your current coverage and compare it with other options in your area to make sure that your current coverage is still best for you in the coming year. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is from October 15 to December 7. This is the time period each fall when you can make changes to your health insurance coverage, including adding, dropping, or changing your Medicare coverage.
Note: You may hear about the Marketplace (or Exchanges) created by the Affordable Care Act. The Marketplace does not offer Medigap policies, Medicare health plans, or Medicare drug plans (Part D). If you already have Medicare, the Marketplace is not for you. It is illegal for someone who knows you have Medicare to sell you a Marketplace plan.

Contact Us

Still have questions? Check out our Contact page to get in touch with one of our team members who can help provide more personalized assistance.