Being able to sign up for Medicare can be an exciting time, but also one filled with so many questions and choices.
First, let’s talk about the basics. Medicare is a federal health insurance program available to people 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities and those with End-Stage Renal Disease.
According to Medicare.gov, there are different parts of Medicare that cover different aspects of health care and include:
· Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital visits, skilled nursing facility stays, hospice care and some home health care.
• Medicare Part B, which covers health-care provider services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services.
• Medicare Part C, also called Advantage Plans, is a Medicare health plan offered by a private company that works with Medicare. It can be a Health Maintenance Organization Plan or a Preferred Provider Plan. These plans cover all Medicare A and B benefits.
• Medicare Supplemental plans help to pay for those deductibles and copayments that Medicare A and B have. These plans also are designated as letter plans such as A, B, C, D, F etc.
• Medicare Part D plans are drug coverage plans. Advantage Plans may also have Part D plans included in the plan.
All these choices can be confusing so there are programs and organizations established to help guide you through Medicare sign-up and open enrollment.
How do I enroll in Medicare?
For some, enrollment is automatic. According to insurance.ohio.gov, if you begin receiving Social Security income prior to age 65 or you receive Social Security disability income, your enrollment is automatic for Medicare A and B. Everyone else must apply through the Social Security Administration.
Those turning age 65 have seven months to enroll. Your Medicare enrollment period starts three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after the month of your 65th birthday. If you apply before your birth month, your Medicare coverage should start on the first day of your birth month.
If you don't enroll in Medicare during your initial seven-month enrollment period, you must wait to apply during the next general enrollment period (January through March each year).
If you need help navigating through Medicare, there are two informational programs coming up that may be beneficial for you.
• If you are new to Medicare, Fisher-Titus Medical Center will host a Welcome to Medicare event to review more details and options. Representatives from the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) and Fisher-Titus will offer this free event on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Fisher-Titus Learning Center at Norwalk High School, 350 Shady Lane Drive.
• Advantage and Part D plans can change each year. It is important to review your plans annually during the open enrollment period of Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) can help you evaluate your Part D and Advantage plans during open enrollment to help you decide if your plans still fit your needs and budget for the upcoming new year. Each year, in conjunction with OSHIIP, Fisher-Titus Medical Center hosts a Medicare Check-up Day and this year it will be on Wednesday, Oct. 17 with trained OSHIIP workers and volunteers who will go over your plan one-on-one. Individual appointments needed. Call 419-660-2521 to make an appointment.
As with any new process, signing up for Medicare might be overwhelming. Yet, there is help available in Huron County to help you understand the process. Visit www.insurance.ohio.gov or call 1-800-686-1578 to learn more about these events and Medicare.
Jill Schafer is the community benefit/health education coordinator. She has a bachelor of science in nursing and is a registered nurse. Schafer oversees the prescription assistance program at Fisher-Titus. She also is the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) coordinator for Huron County, which means she is trained extensively in understanding Medicare and how to help those going on or already on Medicare.