Medicare Enrollment is Now Open

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Medicare enrollment is taking place now through December 7th. Area Agency on Aging has a SHIP (State Health Insurance Program) that can help first-time enrollees understand their options.

Linda Khumalo, Medicare program coordinator, will discuss what you need to know about enrollment and changing your coverage and drug coverage. She will also discuss what SHIP is and how they can assist you for free.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a program that helps people who are 65 and over who have typically retired, and it can also help people with disabilities. It is a federally run program, Khumalo said. It also now has another branch that is Medicare Advantage that is run by private companies.

Concerning people signing up for the first time, “what they need to know is that it begins at social security. You have to call the social security office, that’s where it all begins. And you let them know that you’re getting ready to sign up for Medicare and you’re about to be Medicare eligible,” Khumalo said.

After contacting social security, a person signing up gets to choose a plan. Khumalo recommends calling one of the agencies to learn about the different Medicare programs available in each area.

What are SHIPS?

SHIP stands for State Health Insurance Assistance Program. These are federally funded.

“They are staffed primarily by volunteers with a few paid staff. What we do is educate the community on the different plans of Medicare that are available and help them avoid penalties that usually come with not knowing what the deadlines are,” Khumalo said.

Linda Khumalo/Medicare Program Coordinator

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