Anne Avery
Jeff Elkins

A Passion for Getting Health Care to the Underserved

For three decades, Medicare official Anne Avery has devoted herself to educating others.

Backstory: Emigrated from South Korea in 1975.

Education: Studied at University of Louisville.

Profession: National lead for Asian-American and Pacific Islanders outreach at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Vision: Promote good health and access to federal health care benefits.

Anne Avery, 58, has spent her adult life bridging cultures. Arriving in Louisville with family at age 17, she often translated for Koreans working at a local garment factory when problems came up. Years later, after taking a job as a bilingual clerk with the federal government and eventually landing at the Department of Health and Human Services, she developed a passion for educating the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities about benefits.

By 2006 Avery was spending so much of her own time and money on outreach that HHS made it her job. Through workshops, webinars, YouTube videos, and more, Avery has educated tens of thousands across the country. Now after 31 years, she is retiring. Still, she notes, "I want to keep helping."

Her Medicare Advice

Do An Annual Checkup. Use open enrollment—Oct. 15 to Dec. 7—to review your coverage with any health changes in mind. "Are you on new drugs for high blood pressure? Prices vary year to year and plan to plan," says Avery.

Pay Only for the Care You Received. Check your Medicare summary for errors. "Being charged for a doctor's visit while you were out of town may be a mistake—or it may be a scam," she says.

Stay Alert to Fraud. A Medicare counselor won't contact you for your Medicare or bank account numbers without permission. "Don't let anyone rush you," says Avery. "There are no early-bird discounts."

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.