NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Turning 65? If you are, do you know the basics of Medicare?

turning 65, basics of Medicare, Medicare

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

A learning session will be offered in Hazen April 13, at the Sakakawea Medical Center Conference Room. The session will run from 10 a.m. to 12 CT. The NDSU Extension Service in partnership with Coal Country Community Health Center and Sakakawea Medical Center will offer the opportunity to learn the basics of Medicare. Other topics covered include: Medicare Preventative Services, Advanced Care Planning, Medicare Initial Visit, and why review your Part D supplement each year. To register for the event, please call 873-5195. Space is limited.

When individuals turn 65, they have a lot of decisions to make. Should you keep/sign up for Part A? Should you take Part B? When? What about Part D? Do you need a Medigap policy? Can you get help with Medicare costs?

If you or a loved one is nearing the age of 65, there are several things you need to know regarding Medicare.

Medicare eligibility begins at age 65 for most people. Boomers born in 1953 are next up to join the ranks of Medicare beneficiaries. Here’s what you need to know.

1. You Have a Set Time to Enroll in Medicare

Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is 7 months long. It includes:

  • The 3 months before the month you turn 65
  • The month you turn 65
  • The 3 months after the month you turn 65

2. You Can Delay Medicare Part B

Most people get Part A (hospital insurance) premium-free because they or a spouse worked and paid taxes. Part B (medical insurance) has a monthly premium.

You may want to delay signing up for Part B if you have other health care coverage, such as through an employer or union. You must qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to avoid a late enrollment penalty if you delay Part B.

  3. There Are Two Ways to Get Medicare

Medicare gives you two ways to get your benefits:

  • Original Medicare (Parts A & B), the traditional way
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C), an alternative to Original Medicare

Original Medicare is administered by the federal government. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. They must provide all the same benefits as Original Medicare Parts A and B. Many plans include additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage and more.

4. Medicare Doesn’t Cover Everything!

Original Medicare doesn’t include coverage for prescription drugs. You may buy a standalone prescription drug plan (Part D) to get this coverage.

Some people also buy a Medicare supplement insurance plan (Medigap) to help with some costs not paid by Original Medicare.

5. You May Qualify for Help with Medicare Costs

Several programs offer financial assistance with Medicare premiums and other costs. You may want to look into them, even if you think you might not be eligible.

Don’t let Medicare enrollment sneak up on you! Get a head start on learning the basics about Medicare so you can make an informed decision when the time comes.

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