HELP LINE: Opportunities coming to learn more about Medicare

WE HEAR IT all the time, right?

“Well, it isn’t rocket science …”

Actually, some things are “rocket science,” such as rocket science.

Another is Medicare, especially if you have no clue how it works or what all the moving parts look like.

No, I’m not going to get into all that today, but I am going to tell you how to learn more about the nuts and bolts of Medicare than you would have imagined possible, in a very short amount of time and about as painlessly as possible.

Here’s the deal:

We’re going to offer you three opportunities to attend free “Welcome to Medicare” workshops — “We” being the scary-smart, local volunteers from the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) group.

Did you hear the “free” part?

Also, they will not try to sell you anything, because they don’t have anything to sell.

I promise.

Note the title is “Welcome to Medicare,” so the intended audience is folks who are on the cusp of Medicare eligibility/signup.

However, you’re allowed to attend even if you have already signed up for Medicare and just think it would be fun if you had a clue about what it all means.

Don’t worry, no one will ask.

Let’s cut to it:

• The first one is from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St.

• The very next day, Thursday, you could catch it from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock, 620 Cedar Ave.

• Didn’t work? OK, how about the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St., from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 24.

Actually, we don’t care who you are or how old you are or why you care.

The only requirement is that you be interested in Medicare.

Why you care is your business.

Just show up with any questions you might already have and pay attention.

Seriously, these amazing people make it as simple as it can possibly be, and they can answer just about any question on the subject that you care to conjure up.

As long as we’re on the subject of SHIBA, if you’re at all like me (or, even if you aren’t), you find any form of health insurance more than a bit … confounding.

Happily, then, these same good folks staff regular clinics where civilians such as us can just show up with our health insurance-related questions, problems, “what-ifs” and frustrations and get some straight-up help.

For free. No sales.

Interested? OK:

• The first Wednesday of every month, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., you can walk into the Information & Assistance office in Forks, 481 Fifth Ave. (across from the hospital) and get help.

If that time doesn’t work, call 360-374-9496 to arrange a different time.

• Every single Friday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., at the Port Angeles Senior Center.

• Every single Tuesday at Shipley Center, 921 E. Hammond St., from 10 a.m. to noon.

• The fourth Wednesday of every month at the Quilcene Community Center, 294952 Highway 101, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• The second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road in Chimacum, from 10 a.m. to noon.

• And the first and third Tuesdays of every month at the Port Townsend Community Center, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

That’s actually pretty amazing, if you think about it: You just walk in, wait your turn and, pretty soon, somebody who knows what they’re doing will help you and not slap you with a bill. Wow.

Now, I started this being about Medicare, but these guys will help you with any kind of health insurance: employer-paid, VA, Tri-Care, Medicaid, etc., ad infinitum.

I know these people.

I work with them, and I can tell you that they are some of the smartest, most genuinely decent people that it’s ever been my good fortune to be associated with, so consider this a personal recommendation.

As a matter of fact, I have sent my own friends and family to them — and still do.

And if you lose this column, just email me and ask.

I routinely repeat myself repeat myself.

This kind of help should not be a secret.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing [email protected].

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