Help with unlocking the mystery of Medicare

by Becky GINOS

CLEARFIELD—As individuals approach the age of 65 or retirement, the idea of applying for Medicare can be daunting. That’s why the Davis County Health Department Senior Services has developed an ongoing class to guide people through the maze that is Medicare.

“We’re here to help because it can be confusing,” said Jackie Smith, case manager with DCHD Senior Services. “The class talks about enrollment periods and the different ways you can get Medicare. At the end of the class we give you the option to come in for a one-on-one visit if necessary.”

The one-hour class is free and held in various locations throughout the county from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. monthly. Instruction covers topics such as when to apply and what to consider when choosing a plan.

Plans include:

• Original part A & B – that covers hospital/medical

• Part D – a separate drug plan

• Supplements – to cover deductibles and coinsurance

• Advantage Plan – similar to an HMO or PPO requiring individuals to see specific doctors and combines hospital, medical and a drug plan all into one.

“Lots of different companies offer the Advantage Plan so you’ll probably start getting ads in the mail,” Smith said. “In the class we try to educate you on what that means and not push one plan.”

Individuals can apply as early as three months before they turn 65 and have a seven-month window before they incur a penalty.

“There’s an initial enrollment period and special enrollment,” said Smith. “Initial is for those turning 65 and special is when someone is retiring or losing their insurance or other circumstance. If you turn 65 but you are already covered by your work insurance, you don’t have to enroll at that time. You can enroll when you retire.”

However, individuals can incur a penalty if they don’t sign up at the right time. “The penalty can cause the monthly payment to go up from that time on,” said Smith. “Sometimes people say they don’t want to pay now so I’ll sign up later or they have retiree insurance but that doesn’t count. Others don’t take any medications so they think they don’t need Medicare Part D so they wait and they get a penalty.”

The next class is Wednesday, Jan. 24 at the Kaysville Library, 215 Fairfield Road. For more information contact Smith at 801-525-5082.

“You can also make a one-on-one appointment,” said Smith. “We just want to help. You don’t have to sign up, (for the class) just come.”


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