BALDWIN — With open enrollment for Medicare around the corner, officials say there are measures people can take to help make it a smooth process.

Julie Burke, counselor for Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program, (MMAP), at Baldwin Family Health Care, wants to make sure people are informed about open enrollment for Medicare, which is from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

Through MMAP, Burke offers free local healthcare coverage counseling to local residents with Medicare.

"It is important people review the availability of new Medicare plans once a year for open enrollment," she said. "There are two subsidies available, one at the state level which pays for part B premium and another at the federal level to offset the cost of prescription drug coverage. We can screen people not enrolled in subsidies to see if they are available to receive them."

Burke said another point to consider when enrolling in Medicare is to be on guard against fraud.

"We need to educate people on protection from fraud. It is important to understand if someone tries to sell a Medicare policy outside of the open enrollment period to people without subsidies, do not buy from them. If you qualify or are enrolled with subsidies, you can change plan any time a year," she added.

Some safeguards are being taken to help protect people against fraud, she said, such as removing personal Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. New Medicare numbers will be disbursed through March.

"Medicare won't call you to verify the new Medicare numbers. Don't give personal information out. Make sure to keep Medicare cards in a safe place and don't carry it on your person unless going to the doctor or hospital that day," she said.