I'M ABOUT TO TURN 65. WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MEDICARE?
Medicare enrollment begins three months before your 65th birthday and continues for seven months. If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, you don't need to do anything. You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B effective the month you turn 65. If you do not receive Social Security benefits, then you will need to sign up for Medicare.
The Medicare website allows you to sign up online, and compare available Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans, but if you prefer to meet with a SHIP counselor in person or by phone for a detailed informational session, appointments can be made by calling 1-877-801-0044. The SHIP counselor will advise you of the documents you'll need to have on hand when you schedule your appointment.
CAN I SAVE MONEY ON MEDICARE COVERAGE OR PRESCRIPTION COSTS?
Some low-income individuals (or couples) may be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program. Tennessee offers three of these programs: QMB, SLMB and QI-1. Each has its own income and resource requirements.
What items are included in the Medicare Savings Program resource limits?
Countable resources include:
Money in a checking or savings account
Countable resources don't include:
Up to $1,500 for burial expenses if you have put that money aside
Other household and personal items
QMB beneficiaries are reimbursed for their monthly Medicare Part B premiums, and receive coverage for deductibles and coinsurance for both Medicare Parts A and B.
SLMB and QI-1 beneficiaries are both reimbursed for the monthly Medicare Part B premium, but have different income requirements.
To see if you qualify for any of these Medicare Savings Programs, contact the SHIP department at
1-877-801-0044. If you appear to be eligible, the SHIP counselor can complete an application with you over the phone.
If you meet certain income and resource limits, you may also qualify for a program called Extra Help from the Social Security Administration to pay the prescription costs, premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance of Medicare prescription drug coverage.
To see if you qualify for the Extra Help program, contact the SHIP department at 1-877-801-0044. If you appear to be eligible, the SHIP counselor can complete an application with you over the phone.
MY CALL WAS SENT TO VOICEMAIL
Due to the high number of calls to SHIP, calls are occasionally transferred to voicemail if the counselors are busy speaking with other people. Each voicemail is logged with the date and time it was received, and SHIP staff will call you back within two working days, although most calls are returned the same day. Calls are returned in the order that they are received.
If you know that you will be unavailable to take a returned call at a certain time, please leave that information on your message.
WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD I HAVE ON HAND WHEN I CALL?
If you are calling with questions about your Medicare account, or about an Advantage Plan or Part D Drug Plan, please have your Medicare card available, if possible. Please also have a list of all your prescription medications and your prescribed dosages.
If you are calling to apply for a Medicare Savings Program or the Extra Help program, please make sure to have your Medicare card available, and know the exact amount of your total gross monthly income (before deductions).
CAN I CALL ON BEHALF OF SOMEONE ELSE?
A SHIP counselor will be happy to assist you with a family member or friend's Medicare questions as long as you have their permission to call of their behalf. For detailed assistance you will need to have their Medicare card, date of birth and list of prescription medications available, but more general questions can be answered without providing personal information.
WHAT ELSE CAN SHIP STAFF HELP ME WITH?
SHIP counselors can answer questions about Medicare supplements, VA medical services, TRICARE For Life (a medical benefit program designed to pay for medical expenses for active duty military personnel and their families, and also for retired military personnel and their families), the Tennessee Plan (the program generally known as UMR/POMCO, designed specifically for retired state and higher education employees, local education and local government employees, and their eligible spouses and dependents who are enrolled in Medicare), and other insurance-related questions. For more information, contact the SHIP department at 1-877-801-0044.
WHAT IF I'M UNABLE TO HEAR OR SPEAK ON THE PHONE?
There are several options available for Medicare beneficiaries who may be hearing-impaired or unable to speak over the phone. If you use a TTY device, SHIP counselors can utilize a Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) to speak with you. We can also communicate by email. If an American Sign Language translator is needed, we will arrange for one to be present.
WHAT IF I SPEAK A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH?
FTAAAD contracts with Avaza Language Services, which provides translation services in more than 20 languages. If you would like a translator to assist you with your SHIP consultation, just let us know.
SHIP: This project was supported, in part by grant number 90SAPG0069-04-00, 2001TNMISH-00, 2001TNMIAA-00, and 2001TNMIDR-00, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.
The activities of this agency/program [as applicable] are funded in whole or in part by a grant from the Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability.
MIPPA: This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001TNMSH-00, 2001TNMIAA-00, 2001TNMIDR-00, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.