Close to 40,000 Iowans will turn 65 in 2012 and most will be encountering Medicare for the first time.

“For those approaching age 65 there are four key Medicare questions,” says Kris Gross from the state of Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program.

First, should you enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B? If you determine with Social Security that the answer to that question is “yes,” how do you want to get your Medicare coverage—through traditional Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan? Next, will you enroll in Medicare Part D for prescription drug coverage? And finally, will you have some type of supplemental coverage which will cover costs not paid by Medicare?

Even if you plan to continue working after age 65, or have a spouse who will be working and providing you with health coverage, you need to understand Medicare’s eligibility and enrollment rules and evaluate which options will provide you with the most cost effective health coverage.

Seneca Area Agency on Aging has several resources which can help you understand your options and your rights. The “Checklist for New Medicare Beneficiaries” and “Getting Ready to Retire: Health Insurance Issues” factsheets are available by calling (800) 642-2445 ask for Colleen.

All services are free, confidential and objective. To find the SHIIP site nearest you call (800) 351-4664 (TTY (800) 735-2942), go to www.therightcalliowa.gov or e-mail shiip@iid.iowa.gov.

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