If you’re new to Medicare or missed your initial enrollment period, the SEAGO Area Agency on Aging is ready to help guide you through the process and answer questions.
The Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization Area Agency on Aging is a non-profit agency that helps seniors and the disabled in Graham, Greenlee, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties in a variety of ways. Right now, officials with the agency wants to help seniors with Medicare.
The initial Medicare enrollment period is seven months; the three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and the three months after that.
“A lot of people missed that period because of COVID-19 or are right in the middle of it and don’t really know how to handle it,” said Ramona McMurtrie, the agency’s health insurance assistance programs coordinator.
McMurtrie said many people used to sign up for Medicare at their Social Security Office.
The coronavirus has ended that for now, but they can still sign up at the Social Security website, ssa.gov.
“A lot of people don’t realize that,” she said.
“If you’re new to Medicare and don’t know what your options are, you can go to medicare.gov. It’s a very user-friendly site. You can scroll through the different sections and get your answers. You can call me and I can walk you through it. That’s what we’re here for.
“If I get an email from somebody, they can explain the situation. I can call them and give them a really quick Medicare 101, as I call it, and explain their options. I don’t advise you which way to go but I do explain to you what all your options are and answer your questions.
“A lot of people in their 60s and older aren’t comfortable online. They can always call me and leave a message, and I can walk them through the process. I can do the online form for them or mail them a form if they don’t want to do anything online. They can fax them to their local Social Security office or send them there by certified letter. There are a lot of options, a lot of ways to get the coverage you need.
“If people completely miss their enrollment period, there’s a special COVID-19 special enrollment period when they can sign up for Medicare online. There are options for people who lost their jobs back in March and now realize they no longer have insurance coverage but are Medicare age.”
McMurtrie said she could also field questions about applying for AHCCCS or Medicaid and help people with Medicare billing claims.
“Medicare has eased up on a lot of things,” she said. “For example, if you’re getting a COVID-19 test there’s no out of pocket cost for you if you’re on Medicare. It just needs to be correctly billed. Medicare covers the antibody test, the regular test and all medically necessary hospitalizations; you’ll still have deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance if you’re hospitalized.”