Mary Loftis knows that change can be unsettling.
Loftis is a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) advisor for Burt, Dodge and Washington counties.
In September, Loftis is planning a free program to help people who will turn 65 in 2022 or early 2023 and/or plan to retire from their employer’s insurance plan soon.
A “New to Medicare” educational program will begin at 7 p.m., Thursday, September 22, at the Chatt Senior Center in Tekamah. Those wishing to attend are asked to call the Nebraska Extension Office in Burt County at 402-374-2929 to register in advance so that sufficient materials are available.
Another New to Medicare session is scheduled for Jan. 26 at the Washington County Extension Office in Blair.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, part of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, provides unbiased information to help people take this step.
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Loftis has been a SHIP advisor for 17 years and has helped hundreds of people, explaining the different parts and costs of Medicare as they become eligible.
She has helped many other Medicare beneficiaries compare Medicare prescription drug plans each year.
“Being 65 or considering getting Medicare from your work insurance can be scary,” Loftis told the Tribune. “Change is scary and education about the Medicare program and the process can help you feel more comfortable. Help is available, and it’s Nebraska SHIP’s job, to help you understand your individual options and timelines without selling you anything.
During the workshop, she will discuss the different parts of the Medicare program, costs, eligibility, Medicare Advantage and more.
There will be time for questions and answers.
Everyone is welcome, no matter what county or community they live in, she said. Participants are encouraged to bring a friend, spouse or neighbor and any mail they have received that may be helpful in explaining their questions.
Additionally, Loftis is planning open registration events Nov. 15-17 at the Dodge County Extension Office in Fremont.
Open enrollment is when Medicare customers can compare their drug or Medicare Advantage plans for the next year.
The open registration period is from October 15 to December 7.
“I would love to see all Medicare customers come and compare their drug plan and/or health insurance plan so they don’t pay more than they need next year,” said said Loftis.