Want information on Medicare? Plan to attend a free educational program on June 6 at 7 p.m. at the McPherson County Extension Office. SHICK Counselor Jana McKinney will be presenting the basics of Medicare. This program will last about an hour an cover Medicare Parts A, B, C and D, as well as discuss the Supplemental Plans. It would be helpful if you could let us know you are coming by calling 620.241.1523 or email jmckinne@ksu.edu One-on-one counseling sessions are available by appointment with Jana; this session will be a group general program to answer basic questions.

Medicare is health insurance for people age 65 or older, under age 65 with certain disabilities, and any age with permanent kidney failure (called "End-Stage Renal Disease"). You must have entered the United States lawfully and have lived here for 5 years to be eligible for Medicare. Medicare has two parts: Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps pay for inpatient care you get in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or hospice, and for home health care if you meet certain conditions. Most people don't have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A because they or a spouse paid Medicare taxes while working in the United States. If you don't automatically get premium-free Part A, you may still be able to enroll, and pay a premium. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) helps pay for medically-necessary doctors' services and other outpatient care. It also pays for some preventive services (like flu shots) to help keep you healthy and some services that keep certain illnesses from getting worse. Most people pay the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium.

You have choices about how you get your Medicare coverage. Here are the two main options: Original Medicare Managed by the Federal government, it provides your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. (You can choose to have either one, or both parts.) You have to pay a deductible, and you are usually charged coinsurance each time you get services.

You can add Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) by joining a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Costs and benefits vary by plan.

You can also choose to buy a Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) policy to help pay some of the health care costs' "gaps" (like copayments, coinsurances, and deductibles). Medicare Advantage Plans (called Part C) You must have both Part A and Part B to join one of these plans. The plans provide all of your Part A and Part B services and generally provide additional services. You usually pay a monthly premium, and copayments. In most cases, these plans also offer Part D prescription drug coverage.

These plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Costs and benefits vary by plan.

Note: Extra Help is available. If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for help paying your Medicare health care and/or prescription drug coverage costs.

If you have a question about Medicare or the Medicare health and prescription drug plans in your area, visit www.medicare.gov on the web, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

K-State Research and Extension, Family and Consumer Science Agent Jana McKinney is a SHICK counselor willing to meet with any McPherson County resident to answer questions about Medicare. The McPherson County Council on Aging and the McPherson Senior Center have SHICK counselors available to provide assistance.