Medicare: Why Should I Apply?

Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people 65 or older. People younger than 65 with certain disabilities, or permanent kidney failure, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), can also qualify for Medicare. The program helps with the cost of health care, but it doesn’t cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care. Medicare will not only give you more options for your care, Medicare will pay 80 percent of your care. This will help to save your tribal dollars which can be utilized in other ways. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay). Part A also pays for some home healthcare and hospice care. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment and some preventive services.

Who can get Medicare Part A. People 65 or older can receive Part A at no cost if they receive or are eligible to receive Social Security or your spouse (living or deceased), including divorced spouses receives or is eligible to receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits. If you or your spouse worked long enough in a government job through which you paid Medicare taxes. If you don’t meet these requirements, you may be able to get Medicare Part A by paying a Monthly premium. Usually you can purchase this coverage only during designated enrollment periods. The Tribal Health Department can assist you with these premiums.

Medicare Part B. Anyone who is eligible for Part A at no cost can enroll in Medicare Part B by paying a monthly premium. Some people with higher incomes will pay a higher monthly premium. If you do not enroll in Part B when you are first eligible for it, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. That penalty is 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B but did not sign up. The Tribal Health Department will also assist with Part B premiums.

When should I apply? If you are already getting Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement checks, Medicare will send you information a few months before you become eligible for Medicare. If you are not already getting benefits you should contact Social Security about three months before your 65th birthday to sign up for Medicare. After you sign up for Medicare you will receive a red, white and Blue Medicare card showing whether you have Part A, Part B or both. The Tribal Health Department encourages you to sign up for both Part A and B.

If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during the General Enrollment Period from January 1st through March 31st

Please feel free to contact the Southern Ute Tribal Health Department at 970-563-4742 (Main Line) , 970-563-2203 (Cindy Gallegos)  or 970-563-2211( Erika Atencio) with any questions.

 

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