Onslow County Senior Services, together with the North Carolina Department of Insurance and the Senior's Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) can assist in answering your questions about Medicare, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Advantage, Medicare prescription drug plans and Long Term Care Insurance.
Volunteers are available on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday each month from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM. Call the Senior Center at 910-455-2747 to make an appointment with a SHIIP Volunteer or call SHIIP at 1-800-443-9354.
The counselors on the SHIIP toll free line offer free and unbiased counseling on Medicare health care products. The North Carolina SMP Program provides assistance with Medicare/Medicaid billing errors, fraud and abuse.
Current information is available for:
- Medicare benefits
- Medicare supplement plans
- Medicare Advantage/Medicare Health plans
- Medicare Disability Information
- Long Term Care Insurance
- North Carolina Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program
- Other insurance information
- How to become a SHIIP Volunteer
I’m Almost 65 — How Should I Prepare for Medicare?
Turning 65 is a lot like turning 16. When you turned 16, you didn’t just 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. Will you have access to medical and/or prescription drug coverage through an Employer Group Health Plan?
2. 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 Web site at www.ncshiip.com or visit your local SHIIP Office at the Onslow County Senior Center to discuss your Medicare options.
Don’t wait to make your Medicare decisions — you can start the process before your 65th birthday. Let SHIIP help you understand your options and get you on the road to Medicare.
The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) reminds all Medicare beneficiaries currently enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan to keep an eye out for their Annual Notice of Change arriving in mailboxes in October.
Beneficiaries should read all of the information included in the notice carefully especially the information about premium increases, copayments or coinsurance changes, listing of prescription drugs covered — called the drug formulary — and the Evidence of Coverage document that explains how to obtain the plan’s benefits. Please note: information included in the notice depends on the type of plan in which a beneficiary is currently enrolled; for example, if a beneficiary doesn’t currently have Medicare prescription drug coverage, then the notice will not include a drug formulary.
While reviewing your annual notice of change, SHIIP recommends the following considerations:
- Will the monthly premium increase in 2014?
- Will the copayment/coinsurance amounts increase for 2014?
- Are all of your current prescription drugs still included in your plan’s formulary?
- If a prescription is not covered, are there alternative drugs available on the new formulary that my doctor will allow me to take?
- Does this plan still meet my needs?
The annual notices come just in time for beneficiaries to review their plans and make enrollment decisions for the Medicare Annual Election Period, Oct. 15, 2013 to Dec. 7, 2013. Changes made during this election period go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. For those who wish to keep their current Medicare coverage, they don’t need to do anything during the Annual Election Period. For those considering a change, SHIIP can help you understand your options.
For questions about the annual notices or any other Medicare questions, contact SHIIP toll free at 800-443-9354 or visit www.ncshiip.com.
Medicare Savings Programs Available for Low-Income Beneficiaries
Do you ever wonder how you will pay your medical expenses? Do you need more money for things like prescription drugs, electricity bills or food? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions and you are a person with Medicare, help may be available for you.
Medicare Savings Programs assist low-income Medicare beneficiaries with out-of-pocket expenses associated with Medicare. The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program—or SHIIP—can help beneficiaries understand and apply for the financial help.
“This assistance is available to many North Carolinians who aren't even aware of it," said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. "SHIIP can help people with Medicare understand what they may be qualified to receive."
SHIIP has volunteers in all 100 counties in North Carolina who offer one-on-one counseling and provide free, unbiased information about Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage and health plan options and long-term care insurance through its toll-free number. To contact SHIIP, call 1-800-443-9354 or visit www.ncshiip.com.
Your local SHIIP Office is located at the Onslow County Senior Center, 4024 Richlands Highway, Jacksonville, NC 28540. Call 910-455-2747 to make an appointment.