by Mary Loftis, Extension Associate
The articles below are Mary Loftis's Medicare Part D columns. For more information on any of these topics or activities contact Nebraska Extension in Burt County at 402-374-2929, Extension Associate Mary Loftis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or your local Nebraska Extension office.
May 30, 2018
New To Medicare Educational Program – June 21
By Mary Loftis, SHIIP Counselor
If you are turning 65 in 2018 and/or are considering going off an employer’s insurance plan in the near future this “New to Medicare” program is designed for you.
May 23, 2018
Be Aware of Scams
There is never a time when you can let your guard down as far as people trying to get information and/or money from you, but right now is an especially crucial time to be very careful with your personal information.
May 18, 2018
Medicare Basics Workshop
Sixty-Five is the magic number for Medicare eligibility, but is it magic for you?
April 11, 2018
New to Medicare Educational Workshop
Don’t turn 65 or retire from your job (if you’re over 65) if haven’t learned about the different parts of the Medicare program and how they affect you.
Turning 65 is your initial opportunity to enroll in Medicare – unless you are deemed disabled and have been for 24 months. If you are approaching that milestone I’d encourage you to attend one of the New to Medicare programs this year.
April 10, 2018
Tools to Combat Medicare Fraud
News Release from the Nebraska Department of Insurance - Jonathan Burlison
April 6, 2017
New to Medicare Meetings
January 18, 2018
Medicare Prescription Drug Premium Withholding from Social Security Payment
Questions have been coming in about the payment of Medicare Prescription Drug Plans for the new year. If you indicated you wanted the premium to be paid directly by you, the plan will be sending you a bill or a coupon book to let you know what your premium is for 2018.
If you asked to have your Medicare drug plan’s premium withheld from your Social Security payment (called “premium withhold”), there are some important things to know about how it works in different situations.
It could take up to 3 months from the time you request a premium withhold before you start seeing premiums withheld from your Social Security payment. Depending on when the plan gets your enrollment request, premiums might be withheld back to the start of your enrollment in the plan.
In cases where premiums weren’t withheld from your Social Security payment until 1 or 2 months after you enrolled in a Medicare drug plan, you’ll get a bill for the months your drug plan premiums weren’t withheld. You’ll need to pay your drug plan’s monthly premium directly to your plan. Your Medicare drug plan will let you know If there’s difficulty withholding premiums from your Social Security payment.
If you had your premium withheld from your Social Security payment last year, but you switched to a new Medicare drug plan for 2018 it may take a little time before the correct amount is withheld. Depending on how early in the 2018 enrollment period you enrolled in your new plan in some cases, your enrollment and request for premium withhold from your Social Security payment will be early enough that your premium withholding under your new plan will begin in January 2018. If your enrollment occurred later in the enrollment period, you may be asked to pay your drug plan premiums to your new plan starting in January 2018 until premium withholding is set up. If this happens, you’ll get a bill or payment book from your Medicare drug plan telling you the amount you owe.
You may also need to contact your plan again to let them know you want to have premium withholding. It’s important that you pay close attention to all mailings and billing statements you get from your new drug plan. Your plan will tell you when premium withhold is set up.
You may also set up automatic payment through your local bank. Don’t be afraid to call the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan customer service number on the back of your drug plan card to clarify how payment is set up and if you need to make any payments soon. Yes, it may take a little time to get through to the person that can help, but at least you’ll know what is expected and you won’t have to worry when or if the bill is being paid or not.
If your drug plan can’t help or you have additional questions about your premium or enrollment, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
December 7, 2017
End of Medicare Open Enrollment
The Medicare Open Enrollment season ended last week. This annual enrollment event provides me the opportunity to meet with many Medicare recipients to help them decide what Medicare prescription drug plan or health plan will cover their needs best next year. This year was another exceptional year for me with this program.
I coordinated 22 Medicare Open Enrollment Events in Burt, Dodge and Washington Counties since October 15th. With the help of Linda Bisanz, Judy Knoell and Rick Scofield we met with 455 individuals helping them potentially save over $284,000 on their prescription drug costs in 2018. My own mother saved over $2500 just because the plan she was on this year wasn’t going to carry one of her drugs next year! Changing plans saved her that money and kept her prescription costs about the same as they were this year. If we hadn’t compared she would have paid way too much!
In addition to Medicare prescription drug plans we shared information about Medicare Supplement Plans; Medicare Advantage plans and general education about the Medicare program. I will be planning general Medicare education meetings in 2017 for individuals turning 65 in the coming year. We’ll be publicizing these meetings, but if you have questions please call the Nebraska Extension Office in Burt County at 402-374-2929. They’ll be able to tell you when and where these informational meetings will be held so you can learn about the Medicare program before you need to make these important decisions.
Although the Medicare open enrollment season ended December 7, individuals on Medicaid are able to change plans every month if that gives them better coverage. Usually that isn’t the case, but they do have that option. In addition, if someone has a major change in prescriptions and their Medicare prescription drug plan is not covering them there is an option to switch to a 5-star plan once during the year. Comparing plans mid-year is possible if looking to change to a 5-star plan.
Thanks for all your support and patience during this amazingly busy Medicare Season and I count among my blessings all the Medicare recipients I’ve had the pleasure of working with this year. If you have questions or problems with Medicare coverage you are always welcome to call me at the Nebraska Extension Office in Burt County at 402-374-2929.
November 21, 2017
Develop An Emotional Bond With Appreciation And Affection
One word can be used to describe families -- emotion. Families are about emotion. When focusing on strong families, focus on having positive emotional bonds with each other.
People in strong families care deeply for each other and let each other know this on a regular basis. They feel good about each other and know how important it is to continually express these feelings. Loved ones can’t be taken for granted and giving sincere thanks builds a positive atmosphere in which bonds of emotional connection are nurtured.
Sound research across the U.S. and the world has uncovered what makes families work well. But knowing what works is only the first step. The next step is to act upon this knowledge. If it’s known that appreciation and affection are important contributions to the strength of a relationship, how can people learn to use these tools in their lives together?
For some reason, many have it planted in their heads that to express appreciation is an act of weakness or an act that will somehow poison the “victim” of one’s praise. In the case of children, sometimes parents harbor the vague and contorted belief that if they were to actually thank children for who they are and hazard verbal and/or physical affection, it would somehow swell their heads.
Express the strong, positive feelings for each other in a family, and they will grow.
Here are ways to show appreciation and affection for a spouse or family member:
-- Speak kindly.
-- Take each child out for a treat individually.
-- Share one thing at mealtime that is appreciated about what each person has done that day.
-- Give each family member a chance to plan an event to do together.
-- Practice saying thank you even for the little things family members do.
-- Leave sticky notes with positive words in a lunch box, under a pillow and so forth.
-- Hang out with kids.
-- Listen to kids, don’t reprimand them.
-- Take a spouse out on a date at least once a week.
Keep these tips in mind as we head into the hectic December holiday season.
Remember to act like you LOVE each other – all the time!