ENTERPRISE – “Medicare 101,” a single-afternoon class to help seniors understand Medicare health insurance benefits and choices, will be offered free of charge Aug. 30 at 3 p.m. at Community Connections in Enterprise.

The class, taught by Cynthia Hylton and Donna Delikat from the Oregon Insurance Division’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) prgoram, is open to anyone. Registration is preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. Phone 800-722-4134 to register.

The annual fall Medicare enrollment period is coming up Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

The class will cover such topics as Part D drug coverage, supplemental coverage, Part A and B, and enrollment periods.

“What you do not know can cost you,” SHIBA’s class announcement points out, and with Medicare changes happening each year it’s important to stay up to date. Individuals are held responsible by their policies to know about Medicare deadlines and requirements for coverage of medical services.

People who wait to sign up for Medicare because they will not draw Social Security until 66 may end up being penalized, SHIBA also notes. Medicare and Social Security are two different programs. Medicare starts at 65 no matter when a person draws Social Security. Premium penalties and delayed health coverage are consequences of not following Medicare enrollment policies.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan in Medicare. There are 33 prescription drug plans to fit different people’s needs. Just because a neighbor or family member has a certain plan does not mean you should get the same plan. Getting stuck in the wrong plan can be costly. A person in an ill-fitting plan has to wait until the next enrollment period to make a change, and until then will be paying more for certain uncovered procedures and prescriptions. Learning more about Medicare can be helpful in avoiding this predicament.

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