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News from SHINE – February 2017

Are you or someone you know turning 65 soon?

Every day there are 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 and are now eligible for Medicare. Those new to Medicare can make costly mistakes resulting in higher health care costs, gaps in coverage and possibly a lifetime late enrollment penalty. If you are collecting Social Security, you will automatically receive your Medicare card 2-3 months before turning 65. If you are not collecting, you are responsible for signing up for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) either online at or at your local Social Security office.

There are federal rules as to when you can enroll into Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans-HMOs, PPOs) and D (prescription coverage). If you miss these enrollment periods you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty and could have a gap in health care coverage. If you are covered by a group health plan through the company you or spouse is still actively working (not Cobra) you may delay taking Medicare Part B at 65 without a penalty. However, if the employer has less than 20 employees then Medicare is primary and the employer coverage is secondary. In this case, you may need to have Medicare Parts A and B for complete coverage. This is only one example- each situation is unique and more questions need to be asked, options to look over and costs to compare. That is why it is very important to sit down with a SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) counselor and go over your particular situation.

SHINE volunteer counselors are trained and certified by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and are re-certified each year to help those on, or eligible for Medicare, navigate the complex health insurance system. If you or someone you know will be turning 65 soon, please call your senior center to make an appointment with a SHINE counselor or call the Regional SHINE Office, Barnstable County Department of Human Services, at 508-375-6762. For a list of Senior Centers, click here.

The Barnstable County Department of Human Services administers the regional office for the Cape and Islands SHINE Program (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone). SHINE counselors provide free health insurance information, counseling, and assistance to Massachusetts residents with Medicare and their caregivers.