M&M’s—The other important ones

Seek guidance when exploring Medicare, Medicaid options


GILBERT – M&Ms are always on our shopping list. With so many varieties (i.e., plain, almond, mint, peanut butter, etc.) we now specify the exact type to buy to ensure accuracy and satisfaction.

The same process applies as it relates to “the other M&M’s”—Medicare and Medicaid. This article provides some brief information on each.

Medicare is a federally provided health plan for anyone of any age with certain disabilities (blindness, for example) or people age 65 or older. If you are 65 now or going to be in 2018 or early 2019, seek guidance from a Medicare-certified representative to avoid any late-enrollment penalties and maximize your coverage options. Restrictions and penalties can apply if you don’t at least register for Medicare at age 65.

Open enrollment begins Oct. 15 this year and ends on Dec. 7. You are probably hearing a lot of conversation about cost plans changing in Minnesota. This is true, but it does not impact currently- existing cost plans St. Louis County. That said, a few additional cost plans will be available in St. Louis County this year that might be worth exploring.

There are four parts to Medicare. They include:

• Part A—Hospital (in-patient) insurance,

• Part B—Medical (out-patient) insurance,

• Part C—Medicare Advantage (combines Part A, B and usually D), and

• Part D—Prescription drug coverage.

This may get a bit confusing.

For that reason, I continue to believe the easiest and most efficient way to address any Medicare-related issue is to seek guidance from a Medicare-certified professional. The licensing process to become a Medicare-certified professional is time-consuming, arduous, and strict. This is intentional to protect our senior population. (Feel free to ask for Medicare license information. If in doubt, give us a call to clarify the situation or seek another resource.)

Sources of information regarding Medicare include: www.Medicare.gov or 1-800-633-4227, Senior Linkage at 800-333-2433, or Chris Shanahan at 218- 741-0000. Chris works out of our Gilbert office and is Medicare certified.

Medicaid is a program jointly funded by the federal and state governments. It is the largest source of health-related coverage in America. Although some exceptions apply, the primary qualifying factor to qualify for Medicaid is one’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). For general discussion purposes only, this equates to approximately $16,146.

To learn more, contact www.medicaid.gov, www.stlouiscountymn. gov or call Chris at 218-741-0000.

In closing, perhaps the easiest way to remember the difference between Medicare and Medicaid is to remember three words: Age, Income and Disability (AID). Medicare applies to age and disability; Medicaid applies to personal income.

Whatever type of M&M you qualify for or desire, choose wisely to ensure the best possible outcome. John Shega is the owner of Aspire Insurance agency in Gilbert, MN. He is a frequent contributor to Hometown Focus and is the host of a monthly radio show on WNMT AM 650. He can be reached at 218-741-0000 or www.aspireinsurance.biz. Suggestions or questions for future insurance-related topics are both encouraged and welcome.

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