A “birthday celebration” for Medicare has been scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m. at the Old Jones School Family Resource/Surry County Senior Center in Mount Airy marking the 65th anniversary of the program.
“We thought people would feel more comfortable if we conveyed this information in a fun way,” explained Surry County SHIIP (Senior’s Health Insurance Information Program) Coordinator Carmen Long. “Participating in this would prepare them to make informed decisions about Medicare. There’s not one right answer for everyone.”
She said that when people turn 65 there is a variety of Medicare options such as the traditional Medicare Part A or B or Medicare Advance plans in addition to drug coverage plans and supplemental health plans. Long said the SHIIP has been operating locally for more than eight years and the past several years have seen more emphasis on helping participants with Internet-based information.
Long provided information that indicated that more than 103,000 North Carolinians will turn 65 this year. Long explained the situation of turning 65 to turning 16. Teens don’t automatically get a driver’s license. They have to take an exam and prove they are a safe driver. There was a specific order and procedure for getting your driver’s license. The same is true for enrolling in Medicare for the first time.
Long cautioned seniors not to wait until they’re 65 to start thinking about Medicare choices. The “birthday celebration” organized by SHIIP is an effort to help seniors get information so they can make a better informed decision about medicare and supplemental insurance.
“What our SHIIP volunteers are trying to do is to help people look around and decide about the best coverage for them,” added Long. “Supplemental plans can be confusing. Often supplemental health plans offer the same coverage and only differ in price.”
SHIIP is a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Long said it provides free, unbiased information about Medicare and other insurance-related issues. There are SHIIP sites in all 100 counties in North Carolina. Long is also the North Carolina Cooperative Extension agent for Family and Consumer Education.
Information provided by Long indicates Medicare choices depend on several factors including if participants are retired, access to medical and/or prescription drug coverage through an employer or group health plan and how an employer’s group health plan compares with Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans.
SHIIP has created a handout to help seniors navigate the Medicare system and initial enrollment process. The handout, “The Road to Medicare,” outlines the decisions needed to make and what options are available through the Medicare system. Persons may 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.
Interested persons can meet with a certified SHIIP volunteer counselor in Surry County to discuss Medicare options. To arrange an appointment with a SHIIP volunteer counselor, contact the Surry County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension at 401-8025. Cooperative Extension serves as the SHIIP Coordinating Site in Surry County. Persons also may call SHIIP in Raleigh at the North Carolina Department of Insurance at 1-800-443-9354 or visit www.ncshiip.com.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.