New to Medicare Workshop

By Mary Loftis

Celebrate your upcoming 65th birthday by attending a “New to Medicare!” class.

If you or a family member will be turning 65 in the near future, it’s a milestone birthday and a cause for celebration. It can also be a cause for concern and confusion.

Once you know the basics you can handle the rest, or at least will know who to call for help.


Join the Medicare Basics informational meeting on Tuesday, September 26 at the Dodge County Extension Office at 1206 West 23rd Street, Fremont NE.


The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. and absolutely nothing will be marketed or sold at this event. It’s a free informational meeting presented by Mary Loftis, a trained Senior Health Insurance Information Program counselor. Anyone from any county or community is welcome to take part in this program. Family members are encouraged to also attend.


Please call Nebraska Extension in Dodge County at 402-727-2775 or in Burt County at 402-374-2929 to register so enough materials will be available for the meeting.



New to Medicare Educational Program

By Mary Loftis, Extension Assistant

Don’t turn 65 without being prepared and knowing as much as you can about the Medicare program. If you are turning 65 in 2016 and/or are considering going off an employer’s insurance plan in the near future this “New to Medicare” program is designed for you.

The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) which is part of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, provides unbiased information to assist individuals as they reach this important point in their lives.

During this workshop discussion will focus on the different parts of the Medicare program, costs, eligibility and much more. There will be time for questions and answers, because any insurance related program always leaves you with questions…especially one as individualized as Medicare. The best news is that nothing will be sold at this workshop. I work for Nebraska Extension and education is our business. Period.

Anyone is welcome to attend no matter what county or community you live in. Bring along a friend, spouse or neighbor and any mail you’ve received that might be helpful to explain your questions.

This free program will be held in the Rosen Room of the Oakland Auditorium on Thursday, January 21 beginning at 7:00 p.m. Please call the Nebraska Extension office in Burt County at 402-374-2929 to pre-register so enough materials are available and to provide a phone number for you in case of bad weather.

Making Health Insurance Make Sense

By Mary Loftis, Extension Assistant

As a Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) Counselor, I received this information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just last week. At the time of our SHIIP training in early October, CMS had not announced the new coverage and deductible prices or plan changes.

Here are “Answers to Some of the Most Commonly Asked Questions about Medicare” from CMS.


Q:    Can you explain what the Part A and Part B premiums will be in 2016?


A:      For most beneficiaries, the answer is simple:  they will be the same in 2016 as they were in 2015.  That’s because there will be no Social Security cost-of-living increase in 2016 benefits.  As a result, most people will pay the same premium for Part B, as long as the premium is withheld from their Social Security benefit check. That’s about 70% of all people on Medicare. Also, since 99% of beneficiaries get Part A Medicare coverage without a premium (since they or their spouse have at least 40 calendar quarters of Medicare-covered employment during their lives), that won’t change, either.


Q:  What about people who don’t qualify for this?  How much will they pay?

A:  Some beneficiaries will not qualify for the rule that keeps their Part B premium unchanged.  These include:  people who do not yet collect Social Security benefits; people who will become  new beneficiaries in 2016;  people who have their Part B premiums paid through a different process, such as Federal retirees; and people who pay an additional premium already, because of their income.  People on both Medicare and Medicaid, whose premiums are paid by their States, are also ineligible for unchanged premiums.  All beneficiaries in those categories will see an increase in their Part B premiums to $121.80 per month (higher for those with income-related surcharges).  These groups together account for about 30% of Medicare’s 52 million beneficiaries.


Q:  Are Part A and B deductibles going up, too?  Will some people be exempt from those increases?


A:  The Part A deductible for an inpatient hospital admission is going up from $1,260 in 2015 to $1,288 in 2016.  Co-insurance for stays beyond 60 days, and for stays in a skilled nursing facility following an inpatient admission will also increase, by a modest 2.2% in 2016.

The Part B deductible is increasing from $147 in 2015 to $166 in 2016.  This is the first increase in the Part B deductible in 3 years.  These increases will apply to all beneficiaries; those exempt from premium increases will still be subject to the new deductible and co-pay amounts in 2016.


For more information about 2016 premiums and deductibles, you can go to, or call Medicare any time of day or night, at 1-800-MEDICARE [1-800-633-4227].



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