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County News

Lisa Zielinski- Bay County Farm Bureau Administrative Manager

Medicare made easy

You’re turning 65 in a few months. Your mailbox starts filling up with advertisements about Medicare supplements, Medicare drug coverage, and Medicare Advantage plans. Your phone is suddenly ringing off the hook with solicitors who want to sell you new health insurance products. You haven’t entered the Twilight Zone … you’re just becoming eligible for Medicare.

But what is Medicare, you may ask. How do I get it? What does it cover? And do I need additional coverage to go with it? All valid questions.

What is Medicare?
Medicare is a federal health insurance program primarily for people age 65 and older, but it also covers people under the age of 65 with certain medical disabilities or diseases.

You’re automatically eligible for Medicare at age 65 if:
You are a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident who has lived in the United States for at least five years; and
        You or your spouse has worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security benefits – usually having earned 40 credits from about 10 years of work – even if you are not yet receiving these benefits.

How do I enroll in Medicare?
If you’re already drawing your Social Security benefits, you’ll automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. (If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of the prior month.) Medicare Part A is hospital insurance (facility charges) and Part B is medical insurance (covers the people who provide your care).

You’ll receive your Medicare ID card in the mail three months prior to your 65th birthday. If you do nothing, you’ll keep Part B and will have to pay Part B premiums. You can choose not to keep Part B, but if you decide you want Part B later, you may have to wait to enroll and pay a penalty for as long as you have Part B.

If you aren’t getting benefits from Social Security at least four months before you turn 65, it’s your responsibility to sign up for Medicare Part A and/or B by contacting Social Security. You have seven months to enroll in Medicare, starting 3 months prior to your 65th birthday month and ending 3 months after your birthday month. But it’s best to sign up well before your birthday month to avoid delays in coverage.

To enroll in Medicare:
        Apply online at https://SSA.gov/benefits/medicare
        Visit your local Social Security office, or
        Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

Should I get Part B?
If you or your spouse is still working and you have health coverage through that employer or union, contact your employer or union benefits administrator to find out how your coverage works with Medicare. As a general rule of thumb, if the employer group health plan covers 20 or more employees, you may be able to delay taking Part B – with no penalty – until the employee retires. The employer group health plan will remain your primary insurance and Medicare Part A will be your secondary insurance. If the employer group health plan covers less than 20 employees, you’ll probably need to take Part B when you’re first eligible for it to avoid lapses in coverage and late enrollment penalties. In this case, Medicare will be your primary insurance, and the employer group health plan will be your secondary insurance.

What does Medicare cover?
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A is hospital insurance that helps covers the facility charges when you are in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, as well as covers most of the cost for hospice care and home health care. As long as you or your spouse has worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters, you won’t pay a premium for Part A.

If you’re admitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility, you’ll be responsible for paying a deductible of $1,408 for each hospital benefit period in 2020. Generally, a hospital benefit period starts the day you are admitted to the hospital and ends after you’ve been out of the hospital for 60 continuous days. Once you’ve paid your Part A deductible, you pay $0 for days 1-60 of a hospital benefit period. However, if you’re in the hospital for an extended period of time, you would pay $352 per day for days 61-90. For days 91 and beyond, you would pay $704 per each “lifetime reserve day” you use to extend a hospital benefit period. You are allotted 60 lifetime reserve days over your lifetime. After your lifetime reserve days are used up, you would pay all costs for days 91 and beyond of an extended hospital stay.

Please note: These deductible and copay amounts may be adjusted each year.

Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B is medical insurance that helps pay for the people (doctors and nurses) who provide your care, diagnostic tests, ambulance, outpatient services, preventive services, and more. The standard Part B premium amount is $144.60 per month (or higher, depending on your income).

You’ll pay an annual Part B deductible of $198 in 2020. After your deductible is met, you typically pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for most doctor services (including most doctor services while you’re a hospital inpatient), outpatient therapy, and durable medical equipment.

Do I need additional coverage to go with Medicare?
Medicare doesn’t cover everything. For example, Medicare Parts A and B don’t cover most prescription drugs, dental care, routine vision care and eyeglasses, hearing aids, or long-term care in a nursing home. And Medicare’s deductibles and copays can add up rather quickly if you need surgery or have a medical emergency. So most people choose to add other coverage to their Medicare Part A and Part B benefits.

You have two paths to choose from when adding onto your Medicare benefits. You choose to add Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and a Medicare Supplemental insurance policy, or you can choose a Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan.

Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage that you can purchase from a private insurance company that contracts with Medicare. You can buy Part D as a stand-alone prescription drug plan or as part of a Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) health plan. Part D monthly premiums vary by plan.

        If your income is above a certain limit, you’ll pay an income-related monthly adjustment amount in addition to your plan premium.
        If your income is below a certain amount, you may qualify for the Extra Help program that helps pay your Part D premiums and lowers your drug copays.

If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part D when you are first eligible, and you don’t have other prescription drug coverage, you may pay a late enrollment penalty when you do enroll in Part D.

You get an initial enrollment period to join a Medicare Part D plan that is seven months long and begins three months prior to your 65th birthday month. You also get an Annual Enrollment Period from October 15 – December 7 each year when you can switch plans for the upcoming calendar year.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap)
Medicare Supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, can be purchased from private insurance companies to help fill the “gaps” in Medicare. There are 10 standard Medigap plans. Medigap plans named with the same letter have identical benefits regardless which company offers it. Medigap plans help pay some or all of Medicare’s deductibles and copays for you, as well as extending your hospital coverage by an additional 365 days.

You get one Medigap Open Enrollment Period in your lifetime. This enrollment period starts on the first day of the month in which you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B and lasts for 6 months. During your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you can join any Medigap plan available in your area with no health questions asked. After your Medigap Open Enrollment Period expires, you can still apply for a Medigap plan at any time, but the insurance company is not obligated to accept you, and if they do, they can charge you a higher premium based on your health status.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans)
A Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another way to get your Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage plans, sometimes called Part C, are offered by Medicare-approved private companies that must follow rules set by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll still have Medicare, but you’ll get your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage from the Medicare Advantage plan, not Original Medicare. In most cases, you’ll need to use health care providers who participate in the plan’s network.

In addition to covering your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits, most Medicare Advantage plans also provide your Part D prescription drug coverage. And they may include extra benefits as well, such as dental, vision, hearing aids, and free gym memberships.

You get an initial enrollment period to join a Medicare Advantage plan that is seven months long and begins three months prior to your 65th birthday month. You also get an Annual Enrollment Period from October 15 – December 7 each year when you can switch plans for the upcoming calendar year. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you don’t need a Medigap plan.

Need help making a decision? Give me a call at 989-684-2772. My office hours are 9am-5pm, Monday – Friday.
Medicare Made Easy If you are turning 65 and have questions about your Medicare options...

State News


Rebecca Gulliver has been the Saginaw Valley Regional Manager for the past four and a half years. She has just recently transitioned into her new position based at the home office: Member Engagement and Field Training Specialist, which includes the Community Action Group program.

CLICK… CLACK… CLICK… CLACK…

Twenty-one steps are taken before turning sharply with the click of the heel to face east for 21 seconds exactly, then turning to face north for 21 seconds, followed by 21 steps down a black mat before repeating the process for an hour until a uniformed relief commander appears to announce the ceremonial changing of the guard. For 24 hours a day, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment stand watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Looking back to my first trip to Washington, D.C., between my junior and senior years of high school, I remember the impact watching that ceremony had on me. The entire D.C. experience humbled me, helped me appreciate the opportunities I enjoy, and quite honestly fired me up, thinking of how entitled our society has become in the midst of so much selflessness showcased through the time-honored memorials in D.C.

If you are not familiar, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a white marble monument overlooking the nation’s capital from Arlington National Cemetery. Since 1921, it has been the final resting place for our nation’s unidentified servicemen and women — a place of mourning and reflection on the meaning and the cost of military service. Depending on the time of the year, the changing of the guard happens either every hour or every half hour, but it all comes down to tradition and paying respect to those who served our country.

Community Action Groups are a special tradition within our Farm Bureau Family. Personally, after I came on staff almost five years ago, attending my first CAG meeting was when it all came together — I felt like I finally understood what Farm Bureau was all about. I cherish that memory and look forward to being able to work in this capacity and with our organization’s time-honored tradition.

For those of you I haven’t yet had the honor of meeting, I am Rebecca Gulliver. For the past four and a half years I’ve been the Saginaw Valley Regional Manager, and just recently transitioned into my new position based at the home office: Member Engagement and Field Training Specialist, which includes this program.

Before Farm Bureau, I worked as the agriscience academic assistant at North Huron Schools, helping high school, junior high and elementary agriscience students with FFA. I graduated from Michigan State University in 2015 with a degree in agriscience, food and natural resources education and recently graduated from Northwood University with a master’s in organizational leadership. In my free time, I enjoy painting, crocheting, being the best aunt I can be to four nieces and a nephew, and playing with my dogs Harper and Hudson.

I look forward to getting to know each of your groups, and using the lessons I have learned through my experiences to give selflessly and serve our Community Action Groups to the best of my ability.

Community Action Groups are a special tradition within our Farm Bureau Family.

Attendees to MFB’s 2021 Annual Meeting can expect a smaller sea of delegates, as many are expected to take advantage of options to participate virtually — one of the silver linings of the pandemic-forced learning curve we’ve all been navigating since March of last year.
 

Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2021 Annual Meeting is taking shape as a hybrid affair, incorporating several familiar in-person activities and elements of last year’s virtual proceedings.

Pandemic precautions in 2020 made it necessary for an almost entirely virtual annual meeting, and feedback from members who took part was mixed. Most missed the camaraderie and efficiency of in-person interaction, but that sentiment was tempered by the undeniable convenience “phoning it in” meant for those living and farming long distances from Grand Rapids.

Barring the unforeseen, this year’s format will borrow from 2020 an early virtual kickoff event in early November for dispensing with reports and other formalities, followed by in-person district meetings the following week.

Those district meetings will allow delegates to nominate and elect their district director (odd-numbered districts only this year) and review the policy agenda prior to the full delegate body convening three weeks later.

The final component will largely resemble our familiar, in-person annuals, but in a condensed, two-day format that will incorporate means for delegates to join the proceedings without coming to Grand Rapids. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 will be packed with Young Farmer discussion meets, the Ag Art Gallery, Promotion & Education content and more.

The agenda below isn’t final but is close enough to offer a good idea of what this year’s MFB Annual Meeting will look like. And it is not too early for interested members to let their county Farm Bureau leaders know they want to take part!

DRAFT AGENDA: MFB 2021 STATE ANNUAL MEETING 

Wednesday, Nov. 3

Virtual Kickoff: 7-8 p.m.

  • Welcome 
  • Business session call to order 
  • Approval of 2020 annual meeting minutes 
  • Officer reports 
  • Rules Committee report 
  • Credentials Committee report 

Tuesday, Nov. 9 & Wednesday, Nov. 10 

District Meetings: in person within the district; times TBD

  • Nominations & elections of district director (odd districts only) 
  • At-large director candidates to join virtually for introductions and Q&A 
  • Policy review

Tuesday, Nov.30

State Annual Meeting Day 1: in-person at Amway/DeVos, Grand Rapids

  • 9 – 11 a.m. • Young Farmer Discussion Meet registration, contestant & judges briefing 
  • 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. • Young Farmer Discussion Meet Sweet 16 – Round 1 
  • 12 – 1:30 p.m. • Discussion meet participant lunch 
  • 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. • Young Farmer Discussion Meet Sweet 16 – Round 2 
  • 2 – 9:30 p.m. • MFA Ag Art Gallery showcase & voting 
  • 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. • Opening delegate session (Hybrid delegation) 
    • Welcome 
    • Scheduled polices 
    • Young Farmer Discussion Meet Final Four announcement 
  • 5 – 5:30 p.m. • P&E Showcase sneak peak (for non-delegates) 
  • 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. • Reception 
    • P&E Showcase of County Activities of Excellence & 2-3 stations from state P&E committee 
    • Young Farmer Excellence Award presentation 
    • Sponsor exhibit space 
  • 6:30 – 9 p.m. • Leadership Banquet 
    • State Young Farmer committee Introductions 
    • Young Farmer Discussion Meet finals 
    • State P&E committee introductions 
    • Foundation introduction & kick-off for Art Gallery 
    • Recognition of county P&E activities and announcement for Ag Week 2022 
    • YF Awards – winners and finalist recognition 
    • Ag in the Classroom (Farm Science Lab & FARM Crates) and Educator of the Year 
    • Young Farmer Discussion Meet winner announcement 
    • Distribute P&E t-shirts

Wednesday, December 1 

State Annual Meeting Day 2: in-person at Amway/DeVos, Grand Rapids

  • 7:15 – 8:45 a.m. • Breakfast 
    • State AgriPac committee recognition 
    • AgriPac keynote speaker 
  • 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. • MFA Ag Art Gallery showcase & voting 
  • 8 – 8:30 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet registration & briefing
  • 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet round 1 
  • 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • Delegate session (hybrid delegation) 
    • Nomination and elections of district, YF, P&E and at-large directors 
    • Scheduled polices 
    • Block voting 
  • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet round 2 
  • 10:45 – 11 a.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet final six announcement 
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet final six round 
  • 12:45 – 2:30 p.m. • Lunch 
    • Key Club recognition 
    • Agent Charitable Fund recognition 
    • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet winners announced 
    • Presidential Volunteer of the Year 
  • 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. • Closing Delegate Session (hybrid delegation) 
    • Block voting 
    • High School & Collegiate Discussion Meet contestants observe 
  • 4 – 7 p.m. • Ag Art Gallery Silent Auction 
  • 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. • Friends of Agriculture Reception 
    • Incorporate elected Friends of Agriculture as a showcase event 
    • AgriPac pin sales 
  • Sponsor exhibit space 
  • 6:30 – 9 p.m. • Annual Banquet 
    • Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award 
    • President’s Address 
    • MFA Ag Art Gallery live auction (popular vote winners & best in show) 
Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2021 Annual Meeting is taking shape as a hybrid affair, incorporating several familiar in-person activities and elements of last year’s virtual proceedings.

Members looking to join the state board of directors are asked to express their candidacy in writing — email works — to MFB Secretary Andy Kok on or before the Annual Meeting Kickoff Nov. 3.
 

Ambitious Farm Bureau members looking to take their involvement game to the next level may consider contending for a seat on the MFB Board of Directors. This year’s state board election will decide who represents Farm Bureau members in Michigan’s odd-numbered districts, currently occupied by the following:

  • Dist. 1 — Brigettte Leach (Kalamazoo)
  • Dist. 3 — Mike Fusilier (Washtenaw)
  • Dist. 5 — Stephanie Schafer (Clinton)
  • Dist. 7 — Mike DeRuiter (Oceana)
  • Dist. 9 — Ben LaCross (Northwest Michigan)
  • Dist. 11 — Pat McGuire (Antrim)

Two at-large positions are also up for reelection:

  • At-Large — Andy Hagenow (Kent)
  • At-Large — Doug Darling (Monroe)

The third at-large position is occupied by President Carl Bednarski (Tuscola), who will be up for re-election next year.

Members looking to join the state board of directors are asked to express their candidacy in writing — email works — to MFB Secretary Andy Kok on or before the Annual Meeting Kickoff Nov. 3.

MFB’s State Annual Meeting Rules Committee instituted a new rule last year asking candidates for MFB director positions to provide a written statement describing how they meet the bylaw qualifications for directors, attesting that they are “directly and actively engaged in farming as owners and/or operators of farms whose primary interest is in farming” — and that they are not employed full-time in an occupation other than farming, nor serving in a county, state or national elective office.

“This move was recommended by a statewide committee several years ago,” Kok said, “to help the delegates understand how each candidate meets the ‘full-time farmer’ eligibility requirement for service on the board of directors.”

Statements will be shared with delegates prior to elections taking place.

Prospective candidates should contact Kok directly for the necessary form or more information.

Not up for reelection this year are those directors representing even-numbered districts:

  • Dist. 2 — Jennifer Lewis (Hillsdale)
  • Dist. 4 — Jeff Sandborn (Ionia)
  • Dist. 6 — Travis Fahley (St. Clair)
  • Dist. 8 — Michael Mulders (Bay)
  • Dist. 10 — Leona Daniels (Arenac)
  • Dist. 12 — David Bahrman (Hiawathaland)

Every year half of the MFB Board of Directors are up for election or re-election: even-numbered districts in even numbered years, odd-numbered districts in odd years. Two/Three at-large directors (from anywhere in the state) are also up for reelectio

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