I’m Almost 65 — How Should I Prepare for Medicare?

— Written By Kim Reid and last updated by Cindy Nance

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 your driver’s license, you must anticipate and plan for becoming a Medicare beneficiary. Don’t wait until you’re 65 to start thinking about your Medicare choices. Start now and let the Department of Insurance’s SHIIP (Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program) help you.

SHIIP provides free, unbiased information about Medicare and other insurance-related issues, and there are SHIIP sites in all 100 counties in North Carolina. It is recommended that you review your Medicare options before you need to enroll so that you don’t make any hurried decisions at the last minute. Your 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 your Medicare options. SHIIP has created a handout meant to help you navigate the Medicare system and initial enrollment process. The handout, “The Road to Medicare,” outlines the decisions you’ll need 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.

You can also meet with a certified SHIIP Volunteer Counselor in your community to discuss your Medicare options. To arrange an appointment with a SHIIP Volunteer Counselor, contact the SHIIP Coordinating Site in your county. If you don’t know the local contact information, call SHIIP at 1-800-443-9354 or contact your local SHIIP Coordinator Kim Reid at (910-592-7161).

Do you still have questions about Medicare? Will you turn 65 this year? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need to attend this upcoming event. We will have A Medicare 101 Workshop at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension on May 29 at 5:30 p.m. The event is free but you do need to register for the workshop. We will have light refreshments and door prizes. If you are new to Medicare or have questions about Medicare this workshop is for you!

For more information, contact Kim Reid, Extension Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at (910) 592-7161.