Medicare advice is free through state-sponsored SHIBA

If free, unbiased and confidential advice on Medicare and other government health coverage sounds good, you’re in the right place in Washington.

Such help is available from SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors), which is offered by the state insurance commissioner. Volunteer advisors, working in cooperation with non-profit social service organizations, can assess an individual’s healthcare coverage needs and eligibility, help with enrollment in Medicare, contact Medicare officials on a person’s behalf and make referrals to other agencies and programs.

Here’s how to put them to work for you:

  • Volunteers anywhere in Washington can be found through, 800-562-6900, and TDD 360-586-0241.
  • Sound Outreach, a non-profit human services agency with an office in Tacoma, provides SHIBA volunteers who offer information and assistance on Medigap (Medicare supplement) and Medicare Advantage plans, Medicaid, employment-related health benefits, long-term care options, and reporting of fraud and abuse. Sound Outreach can be reached at 253-212-3519. Schedules and appointments for in-person counseling are available at 253-593-2111 (extension 107) and In partnership with the Pierce County Library System, Sound Outreach offers monthly Medicare classes.
  • Other SHIBA sources in Pierce County are Korean Women’s Association (Korean language only, and 253-536-3020) and Latino Community Fund (, 206-397-2440).
  • In King County, SHIBA is available through Sound Generations (, 206-727-6221), King County Chinese Information and Service Center (, 206-624-5633/extension 4175 for Chinese and extension 4176 for Vietnamese), Korean Women’s Association (, 253-535-6202) and Latino Community Fund (, 206-397-2440).
  • Medicare’s open enrollment period of Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 is the one time of year most beneficiaries can change their Part D prescription drug and/or Part C Advantage plan coverage. It’s also when SHIBA offers extra phone counseling hours, in-person counseling sites and special events. Find out more at