EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 22, 2013

Turning 65 is the magic age for getting Medicare flyers

Roseanne DiStefano
Elder Q&A

---- — Q: I will be turning 65 in a little over 3 months. It seems like every day I am either getting flyers in the mail from Medicare or one of the private insurance companies. I feel like I am getting bombarded from all different angles. Why so much information so soon?

A: It appears you are most likely eligible for Medicare if you have been mailed the standard enrollment information regarding the program. Typically individuals will receive both their Medicare card and literature explaining acceptance of Part B three months before their 65th birthday. While this may seem like more than sufficient time to you there is a lot for you to consider during the next few months. It is vital to your future health care (and finances) to make informed decisions regarding coverage.

You are encouraged to carefully read all correspondence received and to peruse the Medicare website (www.Medicare.gov) if you have access to the Internet. It is essential for you to understand what is covered under Part A and Part B of Medicare. Part A is insurance for inpatient care in hospitals, inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility (not long term care), home health services and hospice care, all of which must be medically necessary. Part B is insurance for doctors, medical equipment and outpatient services. Along with gaining knowledge about benefits you will also need to consider the fact costs are not covered at 100%. You will incur out of pocket expenses for deductibles and co-payments if you do not have additional coverage. Medicare Supplement Plans or Part C Medicare Advantage Plans are options for you to consider to protect you against what could be considerable financial responsibility for needed health care services. The plans vary as to what they offer and premiums involved so it is important for you to educate yourself now rather than making a hasty decision at the last moment.

As if this isn’t enough for you to absorb Part D Plans which help with the cost of prescription drugs are another part of the equation. Even if you are not currently taking many prescriptions it is impossible to determine what you may need in the near future. Are you confused yet? This isn’t rocket science but it is easy to understand why people find it all very complicated. We always encourage individuals to seek assistance through their local Medicare counseling program (SHINE). The consultations have no fees attached and the trained counselors have no affiliations with any of the individual insurance companies offering coverage. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by speaking with a counselor over the phone or in person.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to ro@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley.