How to Make the Most of Your Doctor's Visit

I manage a large health clinic that treats thousands of patients each year. We have found that patients who come in prepared are much more satisfied with the care they receive. Can you write a column educating patients on how to prepare for doctor's appointments? 


Studies have shown that patients who help their doctors by providing important health information and preparing themselves for appointments tend to receive better care than patients who do not. Here are some simple things we can all do to help maximize the benefits of our next visit to the doctor.

Before Appointments


Gather your health information and get organized before your appointment to ensure a productive meeting with your doctor. This is especially important if you are seeing multiple doctors or are meeting with a new physician. Here is what you need to do before your next appointment:
  1. Get your test results: If you are seeing a new doctor for the first time, make sure he or she has copies of your latest X-ray, MRI or any other test or recent lab results, including reports from other doctors. In most cases, you will need to do the leg work. This may be as simple as a phone call to your previous doctor or you may need to go pick it up.
  2. List your medications: Make a list of all the medications you are taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements, along with the dosages. Alternatively, put all your pill bottles in a bag and take them with you to your appointment.
  3. Know your health history: Talk to your doctor about any previous medical problems and procedures, even if they are not the reason you are going to the doctor this time. This can make an office visit much more efficient. Write it down if it is complicated. Genetics matter too, so knowing your family's health history may also be helpful.
  4. Prepare a list of questions: Make a written list of the top three or four issues you want to discuss with your doctor. Since most appointments last approximately 15 to 20 minutes, this can help you stay on track and ensure you address your most pressing concerns first. If you are in for a diagnostic visit, you should prepare a detailed description of your symptoms.

During Appointments


When you meet with your doctor, it is important to speak up and get to the point. Right away, concisely explain why you are there. Do not wait to be asked. Be direct, honest and specific when recounting your symptoms or expressing your concerns. Many patients are reluctant or embarrassed to talk about their symptoms, which makes the doctor's job much more difficult. It is also a good idea to bring along a family member or friend to your appointment. They can help you ask questions, listen to what the doctor is telling you and give you support.

Consider taking notes or asking the doctor if you can record the session for later review. If you do not understand what the doctor is telling you, ask him or her to explain it in simpler terms so you can understand. If you run out of time and do not get your questions answered, ask if you can follow up by phone or email, make another appointment or seek help from a nurse.

For more information, the National Institute on Aging offers an excellent booklet called "Talking with Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People" that can help you prepare for an appointment and become a more informed patient. To get a free copy mailed to you, call 800-222-2225 or visit order.nia.nih.gov.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published July 12, 2019
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WCCF is Offering Scholarships to Non-Traditional Students

The Washington County Community Foundation is now offering scholarships to non-traditional students through its Education Matters initiative.  The deadline for applications is October 3, 2019 by 3:30 PM.

Education Matters is a regional undertaking organized by the community foundations that serve Washington, Scott, Harrison, Clark and Floyd counties to try to increase the number of working adults in our region who started but never completed some form of post-secondary education – education that extends beyond high school.

You might be surprised to learn that in Southeast Indiana, only 25% of our workforce has an associate’s, bachelors or professional degree, compared to 38% nationally. Yet one in four of our community’s adult workers has earned some college credits! That’s over 3,100 people in Washington County!  For whatever reason, they started but never completed their post-secondary education. This represents a tremendous amount of untapped potential in our community.

The following criteria have been established for scholarships:  

  1. Annual awards will not exceed $3,000 the first twelve months and $5,000 per person in any subsequent twelve month period.
  2. Scholarship applicants must be a minimum of 28 years old as of the date of application.
  3. Only individuals who can demonstrate continuing legal residence in Washington County for at least the past five years are eligible. Documentation such as tax forms, housing receipts, or utility bills will be used to verify residency and/or household income.
  4. Scholarship awards may be used for tuition, course-related fees, or books only. Checks will only be written to an educational institution or certified training provider.
  5. The application deadline is October 3, 2019. No exceptions.
  6. Adult scholarship awards may not be used to pay for college debt.
  7. Subsequent awards will only be considered for students maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA.

Call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334 or email program.officer@wccf.biz to request an application or for more information.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community. 

WCCF offering $30,000.00 in Fall Grant Cycle

Grants for the WCCF Fall Grant Cycle are issued from the Washington County Community Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow funds and are made possible by the generous donors of the Foundation.    The total amount available for this grant cycle is $30,000.00.

Grant applications for the fall grant cycle are available at the WCCF office located on Shelby Street in the Learning Center complex or by emailing program.officer@wccf.biz.  The Washington County Community Foundation is currently accepting applications. The application deadline will be 3:30pm, September 13, 2019.  For more information, you may call Judy Johnson or Lindsey Wade-Swift at the Foundation office.  The number is 883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

I need to locate a good in-home caregiver for my 83-year-old mother. What is the best way to find and hire a caregiver?


Finding a good in-home caregiver for an elderly parent can be challenging. How can you find one that is reliable and trustworthy, as well as someone your parent likes and is comfortable with? Here are some tips that can help.

Know Your Needs


Before you start the task of looking for an in-home caregiver, your first step is to determine the level of care required. This can help pinpoint the type of care needed. For example, if she only needs help with daily living tasks like shopping, cooking, doing laundry, bathing or dressing, a "homemaker" or "personal care aide" will do.

If she needs health care services, there are "home health aides" that may do all the things a homemaker does. Home health aides also have training in administering medications, changing wound dressings and other medical-related duties. Home health aides often work under a nurse's supervision.

Once you settle on a level of care, you will then need to decide how many hours of assistance she will need. For example, does your mom need someone to come in a few mornings a week to help her cook, clean, run errands or bathe? Or does she need more continuous care that requires daily visits or a full-time aide?

After you determine her needs, there are two ways you can go about hiring someone. You can either go through an agency or you can hire someone directly.

Hiring Through an Agency


Hiring a personal care or home health aide through an agency is often the safest and easiest option, but it can be more expensive. Costs typically run anywhere between $14 and $25 an hour depending on where you live and the qualifications of the aide.

An agency will handle everything, including an assessment of your mom's needs, assigning appropriately trained and pre-screened staff to care for her and finding a fill-in on days her aide is not available.

There are drawbacks, however. For instance, you may not have much input on the selection of the caregiver. The caregivers may change or alternate, which can cause a disruption.

To find a home-care agency in your mom's area, ask for referrals through friends, family or doctors' offices. You can also use the home-care locator service tool at PayingForSeniorCare.com – click on "Find Quality, Affordable Care." In addition, Medicare offers a home health compare tool at Medicare.gov/HomeHealthCompare to help you find and compare home health care agencies.

You should be aware that original Medicare does not cover in-home caregiving services unless your mom is receiving doctor ordered skilled nursing or therapy services at home. If your mom is in a certain Medicare Advantage plan, or is low-income and qualifies for Medicaid, she may be eligible for some financial assistance.

Hiring Directly


Hiring an independent caregiver on your own is the other option, and it is usually less expensive. Costs typically range between $12 and $20 per hour. Hiring directly also gives you more control over who you hire, so you can choose someone who you feel is right for your mom.

Be aware that if you do hire someone on your own, you become the employer. There is no agency support to fall back on if problems arise or if the aide does not show up. You are also responsible for payroll taxes and any work-related injuries that may happen. If you choose this option make sure you check the aide's references thoroughly and conduct a criminal background check.

To find someone, ask for referrals or try eldercare-matching services like Care.com or CareLinx.com. For a fee, an aging life care expert (see AgingLifeCare.org) may help you find a caregiver.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published July 5, 2019
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How a Government Pension Might Reduce Your Social Security Benefits

I was a teacher for 20 years and I receive a pension from a school system that did not withhold Social Security taxes from my pay. Now I work for a small company where I do pay Social Security taxes. I am approaching age 65 and would like to retire and apply for my Social Security benefits. I have been told that my pension may cause me to lose some of my Social Security benefits. Is that true?


Yes, it is true. It is very likely that your Social Security retirement benefits may be reduced under the terms of a government rule called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

The WEP affects individuals who receive pensions from jobs that did not require them to pay Social Security taxes, such as police officers, firefighters, teachers and state and local government workers whose employers were not part of the national Social Security system. People who worked for nonprofit or religious organizations before 1984 may also be outside the system.

Many of these individuals may be eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits if they paid Social Security taxes while working for a different employer.

Because of your pension, Social Security will use a special formula to calculate the reduction of your Social Security retirement benefits.

How much your benefits will be reduced depends on your work history. Generally, your Social Security benefits cannot be reduced by more than 50% of your pension amount. It is also important to know that the WEP does not apply to survivor benefits. If you are married and pass away before your spouse, your dependents can receive a full Social Security payment, unless your spouse has earned a government pension for which he or she did not pay Social Security taxes. If that is the case, Social Security has another rule known as the Government Pension Offset (GPO) that affects spouses' or widows'/widowers' benefits.

Under the GPO, spousal and survivor benefits may be reduced by up to two-thirds of the amount of the surviving spouse's pension. If the pension is large enough, their Social Security spousal or survivor benefits could be zero. Note that there are a few exceptions to these rules, and most of the exceptions relate to when you entered the Social Security workforce.

Why Do These Rules Exist?


According to the Social Security Administration, the reason Congress created the WEP (in 1983) and GPO (in 1977) was to create a more equitable system. People who get both a pension from non-Social Security work and benefits from Social Security-covered work get an unfair windfall due to how benefit amounts are calculated.

These rules ensure that government employees who do not pay Social Security taxes will end up with roughly the same income as employees who work in the private sector and do pay Social Security taxes.

For more information on the WEP visit SSA.gov/planners/retire/wep.html. This website will provide a link to an online WEP calculator to help you determine how much your Social Security benefits may be reduced. For more information on GPO, including a GPO calculator, see SSA.gov/planners/retire/gpo.html.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published June 28, 2019

Choosing an Executor for Your Will

Do you have any recommendations or tips for selecting an executor of a will? I am putting together my will and I want to make sure I know my options and choose someone who is capable of taking on this responsibility. 


An executor is the person or institution that will be in charge of administering your estate and carrying out your final wishes. Choosing an executor is one of the most important decisions when preparing a will.

A good executor can help ensure the prompt and accurate distribution of your possessions with minimal problems. Some of the required duties include: filing court papers to start the probate process; managing your estate's assets; using your estate's funds to pay debts, taxes and bills; handling details like terminating credit cards and providing notice of death to banks and government agencies, like the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Post Office; preparing and filing final income tax returns; and distributing assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Given all this responsibility, the ideal candidate should be someone who is honest, dependable, well-organized, good with paperwork and vigilant about meeting deadlines.

Whom to Choose


Most people's first inclination is to name a family member, especially a spouse or child, as executor. If, however, you do not have an obvious family member to choose, you may want to ask a trusted friend. Be sure to choose someone in good health and younger than you who will be able to carry out your plans.

If your executor of choice lives in a different state, you may want to talk to an attorney to see if your state's laws impose any special requirements. Some states require an out-of-state executor to be a family member or a beneficiary while others may require a bond to protect your heirs in case of mismanagement or the appointment of an in-state agent.

Also, keep in mind that if the person you choose needs help settling your estate, he or she can always call on an expert, like an attorney or tax accountant, to guide them through the process. If your executor chooses to do so, your estate will cover any costs involved.

If you don't have a friend or relative you feel comfortable selecting, you could name a third party executor like a bank, trust company or a professional who has experience administering estates. If you need help locating a professional, the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys have great resources and provide directories on their websites to help you select an executor.

Executor Fees


Often times, family members and close friends who are also beneficiaries will agree to serve as executor for free. But, if you opt for a third-party executor, your estate will have to pay the third-party's fee. Each state has laws that govern how an executor is paid – either based on a percentage of the estate, a flat fee or an hourly rate.

Get Approval


Make sure to ask the executor you have chosen if he or she is okay with serving as your executor before naming that individual in your will. Once you have made your choice, go over the financial details in your will with that person and let him or her know where you keep all your important documents and financial information.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published June 21, 2019

How to Protect Yourself from the Social Security Imposter Scam

I recently received a strange call from an individual claiming to be a Social Security employee. The caller informed me that my Social Security number had been suspended because it was involved in a crime. He then said that I needed to reactivate my social security number and secure my bank funds by withdrawing them and putting them on gift cards. Is this a scam?


Yes. It is actually known as the "Social Security imposter scam" and it is becoming a widespread problem in the U.S. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received more than 76,000 reports about this growing scam in the past 12 months alone. With average losses of $1,500, this is quickly becoming a favorite scam among fraudsters.

The Social Security imposter scam usually begins with a call from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration. The caller informs the victim that his or her Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because it was stolen or has been involved in a crime.

The phone call may be a robocaller with a message to "press 1" to speak with a fake support representative who then claims to be able to help reactivate the victim's SSN.

In a variation of this scam, the caller may also tell a victim that he or she qualifies for an increase in benefits. The caller will explain that all the victim needs to do is provide some information. Typically, these callers will ask several questions to get personal information that they can then use to steal the victims' identities or drain their bank accounts.

Because of numerous data breaches, these scammers may have access to accurate personal information — such as SSNs — that they can use to build trust and appear legitimate. Regardless, before concluding the scam, fraudsters will almost always request payment to "unfreeze" the SSN or to process the increase in benefits. The scammer may request payment via an unusual payment method, such as by gift card or some form of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.

These scams can be devastating. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself, and your loved ones, from falling victim to this scam:

Do not trust your caller ID: Scammers can make it look as if the Social Security Administration is calling and even use the agency's real number. If you receive an unexpected call from the Social Security Administration, do not answer it. Instead, call the Social Security Administration's customer service number at 800-772-1213 to see if they were actually trying to contact you.

Remember, Social Security will never suspend your number or call and demand money: If anyone tells you something different, you are being scammed.

Do not give out personal information: Never give out your Social Security number, bank information or other personal details to an unknown caller. If you already did, visit IdentityTheft.gov/SSA to find out what steps you can take to protect your credit and your identity.

Do not trust the caller just because they may know some of your personal information: It is most likely a scam if the person on the other end asks to confirm your information.

Talk about the experience: Those who have been targeted should alert friends and neighbors about the call to spread information and report the scam to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published June 14, 2019
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How to Choose and Use a Home Blood Pressure Monitor

I just found out I have stage 1 hypertension and my doctor recommended I get a home blood pressure monitor to keep an eye on it. Can you offer me any tips on choosing and using one? 


Everyone with elevated or high blood pressure – stage 1 (or 130/80) and higher – should consider getting a home blood pressure monitor. Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure in a comfortable setting. Plus, if you are taking medication, the monitor will make certain it is working and alert you to a health problem if one arises.

Home Monitors


The best type of home blood pressure monitors to purchase are electric/battery powered automatic arm monitors, which are more reliable than wrist or fingertip monitors. With an automatic arm monitor, you simply wrap the cuff around your biceps and, with the push of a button, the cuff automatically inflates and deflates, displaying your blood pressure reading in a matter of seconds.

Today, many monitors come with additional features like irregular heartbeat detection, a risk category indicator that tells you whether your blood pressure is in the high range, a data-averaging function that allows you to take multiple readings and get an overall average, multiple user memory that allows two or more users to save their readings and downloadable memory that lets you transmit your data to your computer or smartphone.

You can find these monitors at pharmacies, medical supply stores or online, and you do not need a prescription to buy one. Prices typically range between $40 and $100.

In most cases, original Medicare will not cover a home blood pressure monitor. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a private health insurance policy it is worth checking into because some plans may provide coverage.

How to Measure


After you buy a monitor, it is a good idea to take it to your doctor's office so he or she can check its accuracy and make sure you are using it properly. Here are some additional steps to follow to ensure you get accurate readings at home.
  • Relax: Do not exercise, smoke or drink caffeinated drinks or alcohol for at least 30 minutes before measuring. Sit quietly for at least five minutes before you take a measurement and remain quiet during the test.
  • Sit correctly: Sit with your back straight and supported (on a dining chair, rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface (such as a table) with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the middle of the cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow. Check your monitor's instructions for an illustration.
  • Put the cuff directly on your bare skin: Putting it over clothes can raise your systolic (upper) number by up to 40 mmHg.
  • Measure at the same time every day: It is important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as in the morning and evening. It does not matter whether you do it before or after taking medication. Just be consistent.
  • Go to the bathroom: A full bladder can raise your systolic pressure by 10 to 15 mmHg.
  • Take multiple readings and record the results: Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results by writing them down, or using an online tracker (see CCCtracker.com).
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published June 7, 2019
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Adaptive Gardening: Tips and Tools for Older Gardeners

Can you recommend some good tools and tips for senior gardeners? My 77-year-old mother loves to work in the garden but has been plagued by injuries over the past few years.


Aches, pains and injuries are common among older gardeners. Because gardening is a physical activity that often requires a lot of bending, stooping, squatting, kneeling, gripping and lifting, it can be extremely taxing on the body.

Back pain and knee injuries are most common among older gardeners, along with carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. To help keep your mom injury-free this summer, here are some tips and gardening equipment ideas that can make gardening a little easier.

Warm Up


With gardening, it is important to maintain good form and not to overdo any one activity. Gardeners often kneel or squat, which puts extra pressure on their knees. Alternatively, standing and bending over for long periods of time to weed, dig and plant can strain the back and spine.

To help your mom protect her body, she needs to warm up before she begins her gardening activities. She should start by stretching, focusing on the legs and lower back. It is also important to keep changing positions and activities. She should not spend hours weeding a flowerbed. After 15 minutes of weeding, she should stand up, stretch and switch to another activity.

It is also important that she recognizes her physical limitations and does not try to do too much all at once. Additionally, when lifting heaver objects, she needs to remember to use her legs to preserve her back. She can do this by keeping the item close to her body and squatting to keep her back as vertical as possible.

Labor-Saving Tools


The right gardening equipment can help too. Kneeling pads can protect knees, and garden seats or stools are both back and knee-savers. Lightweight garden carts can make hauling bags of mulch, dirt, plants or other heavy objects much easier. Long-handled gardening tools can help ease the strain on the back by keeping your mom in an upright standing position versus being bent over. There are also ergonomic gardening tools with thicker handles and other design features that can make lawn and garden activities a little easier.

Easier Watering


The chore of carrying water or handling a heavy, awkward hose can be difficult for older gardeners. Some helpful options include lightweight fabric hoses instead of heavy rubber hoses; soaker or drip hoses that can be snaked throughout the garden; thin coil hoses that can be used on the patio or small areas; a hose caddy and reel for easier hose transport around the yard; or a self-winding hose chest that puts the hose up automatically. There are also a variety of ergonomic watering wands that are lightweight, easy to grip and can reach those hard to-get-to plants.

To find ergonomic gardening tools and the recommended watering aids, check with local retail stores that sell lawn and garden supplies or try online garden retailers.

Container Gardening


If your mom's backyard garden has become too much for her to handle, she should consider elevated garden beds or container gardening, which uses big pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, barrels or tub planters. This is an easier way to garden because it eliminates much of the bending and straining and still allows your mom to plant and grow her plants. Trellises are another nice option that would allow her to plant her garden vertically instead of horizontally.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published May 31, 2019
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Understanding Medicare's Enrollment Periods

What can you tell me about the different enrollment periods for Medicare? I am planning to work past age 65 and understand that Medicare offers Initial, Special and General periods in which I can enroll. How does this work?

The rules for signing up for Medicare can be quite confusing, especially if you plan to work after the age of 65. It is critical to understand the ins and outs of enrolling, because the consequences of missing a deadline can be costly and last a lifetime. Here is what you should know about Medicare's three different enrollment periods.

Initial Enrollment Period


The Initial Enrollment Period, available at age 65, is the first opportunity most people have to enroll in Medicare.

If you are already claiming Social Security benefits at least four months before age 65, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare, with coverage starting the first day of the month you turn 65. If you are not receiving Social Security benefits, it is up to you to enroll in Medicare either online at SSA.gov/Medicare, over the phone at 800-772-1213 or through your local Social Security office.

You can enroll any time during the Initial Enrollment Period, which is a seven-month period that includes the three months prior to, the month of and the three months after your 65th birthday. It is best to enroll three months before your birth month to ensure your coverage starts when you turn 65.

If, however, you plan to keep working and have health coverage through your employer, or your spouse's employer, you may want to delay Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient services, and Part D, which covers prescription drugs. Check with your employer's human resources department to learn how your employer's insurance works with Medicare.

Typically, if your employer has fewer than 20 employees, Medicare will be your primary insurer and you should enroll. If you work for a company that has 20 or more employees, your employer's group health plan will be your primary insurer as long as you remain an active employee. If this is the case, you do not need to enroll in Part B or Part D when you turn 65 if you are satisfied with the coverage you are receiving through your employer. In most cases, unless you are contributing to a Health Savings Account, you should at least sign-up for Medicare Part A, which is free and covers hospital services.

Special Enrollment Period


If you delay Part B and Part D past age 65, you can sign up for Medicare during the Special Enrollment Period. Once you (or your spouse) stop working and you no longer have group health coverage, you have eight months to enroll in Part B. If you miss that deadline, you will pay a late-enrollment penalty for the rest of your life. The penalty increases your premiums by 10% for each 12-month period that you do not have coverage.

The enrollment window for Part D is shorter. You must sign up for Part D within two months of losing drug coverage. If you go 63 days or more without drug coverage, you will pay a lifetime late-enrollment penalty that equals 1% of the monthly base premium (about $33 in 2019) times the number of months you do not have Part D or other creditable coverage.

General Enrollment Period


If you miss either of these first two enrollment periods, you will have to wait until the General Enrollment Period, which is January 1 through March 31 of each year. However, your Part B and Part D coverage will not begin until July 1. You will also be subject to late-enrollment penalties.

There is, however, no penalty for late enrollment for Part A. You can sign up anytime with coverage beginning the first day of the following month.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published May 24, 2019

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