COLUMBUS – A free Ohio Department of Insurance educational program that helped Ohioans with Medicare save a record $16.4 million last year will be holding events across Ohio to help consumers better understand their options.

The Department’s Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) is holding Medicare Check-up Day events in every county through the Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 annual open enrollment period, Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor said. The events are intended to help people understand the different Medicare coverage options. People can also call OSHIIP at 800-686-1578 for assistance.

“Our aggressive statewide efforts have begun and we are excited to help Ohioans as they make decisions about Medicare coverage,” Taylor said. “We are doing Check-up Day events in every county to make it easier for Ohioans to access the information they need.”

OSHIIP is Medicare’s designated free and impartial educational and enrollment assistance program in the state for those utilizing Medicare, family members and health care professionals.

Taylor encourages Ohioans satisfied with their current Medicare plan to still comparison shop coverage for 2015 because plan costs and benefits can change. She said people comparing Medicare coverage should ensure a plan’s covered drugs include their needed prescriptions and to consider the convenience of having pharmacies in network near where they live. It’s also important to consider all out-of-pocket expenses before making a decision.

At the Check-up Day events, attendees can learn about recent Medicare changes, such as the new deductibles, co-pay, and coinsurance amounts, the Medicare Advantage and Part D plan options (beginning in October), and about financial assistance programs, including extra help with prescription costs and for Part B premium savings.

Ohioans should watch for high pressure, and predatory sales practices, such as individuals claiming to be Medicare representatives, Taylor said. If you suspect wrongdoing or have been victimized, call the Department’s fraud and enforcement hotline at 800-686-1527.

Ohioans can visit to enroll into Medicare coverage. A Check-up Days schedule and other Medicare information is available at Call the OSHIIP hotline at 800-686-1578 and 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) for assistance. Ohioans can also find OSHIIP on Facebook.