More than 120,000 North Carolinians will turn 65 this year. Turning 65 is a lot like turning 16. When you turned 16, you didn’t automatically get your driver’s license; instead you had to take an exam and prove that you were a safe driver.
There was a specific order and procedure for getting your driver’s license, and the same is true for enrolling in Medicare for the first time when you turn 65.
Much like you anticipated turning 16 and getting a driver’s license, an upcoming senior must anticipate and plan for becoming a Medicare beneficiary.
A beneficiary should not wait until they turn 65 to start thinking about Medicare choices.
SHIIP, a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance, provides free, unbiased information about Medicare and other insurance-related issues. There are SHIIP sites in all 100 counties in North Carolina.
It is recommended that an upcoming senior contact SHIIP to review Medicare options before needing to enroll in order to prevent any hurried decisions at the last minute. A beneficiaries Medicare choices will depend on several factors, including:
1. Are you retired, or will you or your spouse continue to work?
2. Will you have access to medical and/or prescription drug coverage through an Employer Group Health Plan?
3. How does your Employer Group Health Plan compare with Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans?
Of course, there are other things to consider when determining Medicare options. SHIIP has created a handout to help navigate the Medicare system and initial enrollment process.
The handout, “The Road to Medicare,” outlines the decisions a beneficiary needs to make and what options are available through the Medicare system. To obtain a free copy of “The Road to Medicare,” call SHIIP at 1-800-443-9354 or visit SHIIP’s website at www.ncshiip.com.
Also, certified SHIIP volunteer counselors are available to discuss Medicare options. To arrange an appointment with a SHIIP volunteer counselor, call the Senior Center at 336-246-4347 or call SHIIP at 1-800-443-9354 or visit www.ncshiip.com.
A beneficiary shouldn’t wait to make Medicare decisions. A person can and should start the process before turning 65. Let SHIIP help you understand your options and get you on the road to Medicare.