Medicare 101

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Richard Pavelka presents Medicare 101 monthly at Pendleton Community Public Library.

By Kenny Humphrey | For The Times-Post

By Sue Hughes | For The Times-Post

If you are turning 65 it’s time to sign up for Medicare, the nation’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older. You have probably been bombarded with mail and phone calls trying to sell you supplemental insurance.

It can be very confusing and overwhelming. So, where do you turn for help explaining things? Pendleton Community Public Library and Richard Pavelka would like to help you answer your questions. The second Wednesday of every month, Pavelka is at the library with a class he calls Medicare 101.

Pavelka explains the four different kinds of Medicare and helps decide which one is best for the people attending the class.

“It’s important to pick the one that suits your needs best,” he said.

The original Medicare (that is, Parts A and B) will pay for hospital and doctor visits but does not cover everything.

Everyone must sign up for original Medicare.

People turning 65 have seven months to sign up — the three calendar months before their 65th birthday, their birthday month and the three calendar months after. It is important to sign up early so your Medicare will start the month of your 65th birthday.

The cost for Medicare in 2022 typically runs $170 a month. It is not necessary to be on Social Security to enroll in the program. Person who choose to work past their 65th birthday and not collect Social Security benefits still must enroll in Medicare. The cost will be taken out of their paycheck.

After you enroll in Medicare, you may then look at additional options. For instance, Part D helps pay for prescription costs. Part C can help pay for vision and dental care.

“I want to help educate people about their choices and how everything works,” Pavelka said.

He said it’s important for people who travel a lot or have homes in different states to pick a plan that covers out of network doctors.

“You don’t want to be in Florida, get sick and not be able to find a doctor that your insurance will cover,” he said.

There is no shortage of commercials on TV about supplemental insurance.

Pavelka said to be careful with this type of insurance. You will not have an agent; after you call and get your insurance you may never speak to the same person again.

“If you cannot get a phone number or an agent name, don’t deal with them,” he said.

Talking to a local agent ensures that you will always be able to call that agent.

An agent will come to your house or meet you at the library or a restaurant if you feel more comfortable doing that.

“Once you talk to an agent, Pavelka added, even if you are 100% sure it’s the plan you want, turn him down,” he said. “This way, you can see if he will try to pressure you into buying more than you need.”

He warned that if you get a call that doesn’t haven’t an actual name of an agent, the company can sell your name and phone number to other insurance companies.

Pavelka said that if you think you are getting more calls at certain times of the year, you are not imagining it. Open enrollment for Medicare is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. He said Dec. 7 was picked for a reason that many older people might know; it’s Pearl Harbor Day.

Pavelka’s meeting at the library is set for 2 to 3 p.m. on the second Wednesday each month. It is not necessary to stay for the entire meeting. If you have questions you can stop in and ask him.

“Medicare.gov is an excellent tool to use,” Pavelka said. “You can find answers to your questions and don’t have to deal with a pesky insurance salesman.”

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