It’s that scary time of year.

No, not Halloween – it’s open enrollment for Medicare, and that can be an overwhelming and frightening prospect, especially for those first signing up and others who have encountered issues with health insurance.

Take a deep breath: there is help as close as your local library, thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers at RSVP Suffolk, the local chapter of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

Reliable health insurance information is not easy to find, and complaints about The Exchange abound.  Navigating Medicare can be smooth sailing, however, with help from a knowledgeable authority. 

Where can you find an expert you can trust?

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Suffolk depends on a group of retired professionals from a variety of backgrounds to fulfill a number of service projects assigned and funded through the Suffolk County Office of the Aging. 

The Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) is a federally-funded program from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and a sponsored service project of RSVP Suffolk.

The Smithtown office of RSVP receives an average of 200 inquiries per week, and 40 questions are answered every single day by 30 trained HIICAP counselors. Trained counselors man the phones at the RSVP office in from Monday through Friday.

The services provided by HIICAP are free and unbiased.

HIICAP counselors are also found at 26 public libraries throughout Suffolk County, on hand to answer questions about Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement Plans, Medicare AdvantagePlan, Medicare Prescription Plans, Medicare Savings Plans and much more.

Call the HIICAP Information Line  (631) 979-9490 Ext.18 to speak with a counselor or to set up a counseling session at a library near you. And if you are 55 or better and would like information about becoming an RSVP volunteer, visit their website at

stock photo by Unsplash/Nathália Bariani