Medicare is a national health insurance program for people age 65 and over, for those who have been on Social Security Disability for over 24 months, and for people with End Stage Renal disease or ALS. Over 10,000 Baby Boomers are aging into Medicare every day. There will be an estimated 57 million Americans enrolled in Medicare in 2016.

Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) is a program that utilizes volunteers to help individuals understand their options and choose the plan that is right for them. It is operated locally by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan with volunteers throughout a nine county region. Medicare beneficiaries who have questions can contact MMAP at 1-800-803-7174 and will be routed to a MMAP Counselor in their area.

Medicare beneficiaries who postpone Medicare enrollment can be penalized if they do not have creditable coverage in place. Medicare Part B has a 10% penalty for each 12 month period a beneficiary is without Part B after they become eligible, and it can be a lifelong penalty. There is also a penalty for Part D Prescription coverage. In 2014, about 750,000 beneficiaries nationally had a Part B penalty.

Medicare beneficiaries cannot enroll in an Affordable Care Act Marketplace plan or Healthy Michigan Medicaid Plan. If a Medicare eligible individual must pay a Medicare Part A premium, they are allowed to enroll in a Marketplace plan.

As part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization act of 2015, Medicare “C” and “F” supplements will no longer be sold to Medicare beneficiaries starting January 1, 2020. Additionally, this law has authorized Medicare to stop using Social Security numbers for Medicare Claim numbers, a process that will take up to eight years to complete implementation.