Medicare benefits important to seniors

May 7, 2007
By David Soileau and Theresa Schmidt

Having the right mix of Medicare and supplemental health insurance benefits can be a life saver for seniors-- if their health takes a turn for the worst.

Ed Comeaux knows the importance of exercise and nutrition as he gets older. Especially since he has emphysema-- though right now he says he feels pretty good. "I'm very fortunate because right now, I'm really not in that bad of health." Yet Comeaux knows the older he gets the more likely there will be more health problems. He and other seniors say Medicare is a God send. "I don't think they could survive if you had to, depending on your insurance, it costs too much."

Independent insurance agent Walter Gotreaux says it's important to plan ahead and sign up for Medicare at the earliest opportunity. "When a person is approaching 65 my recommendation would be to go to the Social Security office and apply for Medicare. By doing it early you have your Medicare card in hand even though the benefits don't go into effect until that magic day, the first day of the month you turn 65."

And after you retire you'll no doubt need supplemental insurance. He says it's a good idea to review your policy and needs yearly or when there's a rate increase. "There are some senior citizens out there who are paying way too much for their supplement coverage. The bottom line is for a person to call an insurance company they trust."

And he points out signing up for the medicare prescription benefit or changing supplemental coverage is allowed only between November and January. Ed is glad his insurance is all in place. "If you don't have it, you'd be in a predicament, you know. It means peace of mind during his retirement years."