Our in-depth, one-on-one Medicare insurance counseling sessions are designed to help Medicare beneficiaries and their families, friends, and caregivers. During open enrollment, Robert Cohen, a long-time SHIBA counselor for the CoA, helps hundreds of people make the right choices for each individual situation. 

“I try to steer people in the right direction, so they can find a solution to whatever aging-related issue they’re grappling with,” explains Robert Cohen. “Getting the right information can be confusing. I talk with dozens of people every week, and many are facing a sudden or unexpected life change, and they are overwhelmed and not sure what to do.” 

Robert Cohen

For example, a counselor may help a client figure out which Medicare Part D prescription drug plan makes the most sense for their particular circumstances.

“During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period,  I took my Mom to see SHIBA counselor Jack Hoxie at the Redmond Senior Center to have him help us to review her Medicare Advantage plan for 2020. As a result, it was determined that Mom would be able to change to a different plan with a much lower monthly premium. My Mom is just thrilled!” – Jane Roger

The Latino Community Association, a CoA partner, helps explain the Medicare Program to Spanish-speaking seniors in Central Oregon. Ana Bueno, a trained SHIBA counselor, says, “Our job is to empower Latinos. Many don’t understand Medicare. It’s a complicated program and meeting the deadline to enroll is very important to avoid penalties. If the senior qualifies, we help them access the appropriate form of state aid, which could reduce the premiums, co-pays, and overall costs.”

Why Medicare counseling is essential?

  • 49 percent of those enrolled in Medigap plans say the option of Medicare Advantage was not made clear to them when researching Medicare coverage options
  • A majority of those enrolled in traditional Medicare (55 percent) say they either don’t understand or don’t know the difference between being enrolled in traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Only 20 percent of those enrolled in Medicare Advantage report not knowing the difference between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
  • Many seniors (59 percent) across plan type do not understand or do not know the differences between Advantage and Medigap plans.
  • However, 76 percent of those enrolled in traditional Medicare don’t understand or don’t know if they know the difference between Medicare Advantage and Medigap. 
  • Among those not on Advantage plans:
    • 44 percent are confused about the costs associated with Medicare Advantage plans
    • 44 percent are confused about how Medicare Advantage interacts with Traditional Medicare or Medigap
    • 43 percent are confused about what the out of pocket cost limit is for a Medicare Advantage plan
    • 42 percent are confused about what services are covered under a Medicare Advantage plan

“We go over all the Medicare options, and we have a ton of fun while we’re doing it. You’ll be really relieved and walk out a happy camper.” – Kathleen Harrington, SHIBA Medicare Counselor.

Kathleen Harrington

Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15th through December 7th.

Our SHIBA counselors are here to help you with your Medicare Open Enrollment questions. To schedule your phone appointment today, call: (541) 678-5483 ext. 211

Callers will be asked to leave a message, which will be returned by a certified SHIBA counselor, usually by the end of the next business day. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, all Medicare Counseling appointments this year will be over the phone or ZOOM only. Asistencia con Medicare y consegeria de SHIBA en español están disponibles llamando al (541) 325-6837.


  1. 1
    instantvitalrecords on February 17, 2021

    Thank you very much. Quick question, Can we use any doctor or hospital that takes Medicare, anywhere in the U.S.?

    1. 2
      dlabuda on February 17, 2021

      Good question. I do not know the answer but our volunteer Medicare Councilors do. They are available by phone and can be reached at (541) 678-5483 x 211. They will be very happy to help.

    2. 3
      dlabuda on April 28, 2021

      Again, our volunteer Medicare Councilors are available by phone and can be reached at (541) 678-5483 x 211. They will be very happy to help.

  2. 4

    […] the MA enrollment process has resulted in many seniors not understanding the plan they choose. In a survey of Medicare enrollees, 59% of both MA and TrM enrollees did not understand the difference between […]

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