Navigating Medicare with free local assistance


By Christina Knoell

Special to The SUN

Medicare is complicated. It is important that you know your rights, options, deadlines, possible penalties and where to find the information you need.

Did you know that assistance is available in Pagosa Springs through the nationwide State Health Insurance Program (SHIP)?

Trained and certified Medicare navigators are available by appointment to guide you when dealing with Medicare enrollment, questions and problems. SHIP is available in the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging’s office, located at the Senior Center.

Medicare eligibility begins at 65. Three months before your birth month, you can enroll in Medicare and start making decisions about your options. Some of the things you need to consider are: Are you eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B? Do you need both? Do you have a retirement plan that will work with Medicare? Do you want a Medicare supplement (also called Medigap)? Would you prefer coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan or cost plan? Do you want a Part D drug plan? If so, which plan would work best for you? This varies depending on drugs you take.

It is important to know enrollment deadlines to avoid penalties. The Area Agency on Aging is offering a Medicare 101 class to help get you started. Katy Deshler, an experienced SHIP counselor, will teach the class and provide you with important information.

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