If you’re close to retirement or already retired, you probably have received numerous invitations in the mail for events around town. Seminar? Open House? Consultation? The invitations are coming to you because it’s close to the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Medicare.

Navigating the requests can be time-consuming, so here’s a quick guide of everything you need to know before you head out the door.

Medicare seminars are intended to inform shoppers about the basics of Medicare, explain coverage options and answer questions you may have.

“Don’t phone in your Medicare enrollment this fall,” said Tom Gilsdorf, director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. “Check to see if last year’s plan is still right for you, take time to read the information you’ve received and talk with your doctor.”

Seminars are often held at hospitals, fitness centers and other community spaces.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska also hosts seminars at its home office in Aksarben Village, 1919 Aksarben Drive in Omaha.

Each seminar has an educational component and includes a short overview of the basic information you should consider.

At most events, a licensed, certified representative is available to discuss plan options and help you evaluate things like your medication list, budget and personal health needs. They can even help you enroll if you are ready to make your decision.

However, you are under no obligation to enroll in a plan when you attend a seminar.

Additionally, there are more informal events like open houses. These events are especially designed for you to have more in-depth, one-on-one conversations with a licensed, certified representative.

“Choosing a plan can be overwhelming,” Gilsdorf said. “But there’s plenty of information out there to help you make a decision. One of the worst things you can do is be penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan annual election period starts Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

For more information, visit medicare.gov.

Additional information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska products can be found at medicare.nebraskablue.com. For a full list of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska seminars and open house events, medicare.nebraskablue.com/seminars.