LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas residents shopping for a new or replacement Medicare supplement plan can use a service provided by the state insurance department to help make the most useful choice.

Medicare open enrollment is underway. Running from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, Open Enrollment is the time of year when those eligible for Medicare can get a new, replacement, or change of Medicare supplement coverage.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for those over 65, children with disabilities, or those with end-stage kidney failure. The choice is in deciding what insurance is needed to supplement what Medicare does not cover, such as eye or dental exams.

Shopping for a Medicare supplement plan can be a complex process. Various vendors offer coverage in multiple formats, including types of Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans. Add the complexity of Medicare Part D for prescription drug coverage and making the right choice is even more daunting.

The Arkansas Senior Health Insurance Information Program by the Arkansas Insurance Department is designed to help with the choice. Arkansas SHIIP is a free, federally funded program that puts beneficiaries with trained counselors to help them shop for the best program.

Counselors can also help determine if a beneficiary is eligible for a low-income subsidy for their Medicare coverage. They also work with families and caregivers of Medicare beneficiaries, either by phone or in person.

AR SHIIP may be reached through the Arkansas Insurance Department website or by calling 1-800-244-6330