Are you approaching age 65? Medicare refers to this as "aging into Medicare." There are several decisions which you will need to make regarding Medicare.

First, if you are working and have health insurance through your employer, you may not have to enroll for Medicare at 65. This will depend on the size of your employer. Generally, if you work for a business with 20 or more covered employees, you can continue with their current coverage. Also, consider how much you are currently spending for health insurance. If you are responsible for a significant portion of your health insurance premiums through your employer, you may want to consider Medicare. Is your spouse covered through your employer also? This is a consideration if your spouse is younger and not yet ready for Medicare.

With original Medicare there are four components to health coverage: Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, a supplement and Medicare Part D. None are required, but you will face penalties if you do not enroll at your earliest opportunity. Today we will cover Medicare Parts A and B.

Original Medicare is sometimes called "Traditional Medicare" or "fee for service" Medicare. You can go to any doctor, hospital, skilled nursing facility or nursing home, or outpatient treatment clinic that takes Medicare patients. You usually pay a deductible and part of the cost of the services you get. Medicare decides what doctors and other health care providers can charge for the services Medicare covers. You pay a percentage of this charge called co-insurance. You also pay a set amount each year before Medicare starts paying. This is called a deductible.

Part A is often called hospital insurance because it pays for your care while you are in the hospital. Part A also pays some of the costs if you stay in a skilled nursing facility, or if you get health care at home. Finally, Part A covers hospice care for people who are terminally ill. There is no premium for Medicare Part A if you have contributed through payroll taxes.

Part B pays for doctors' services, outpatient hospital care and home health care that Part A does not pay for. It also covers laboratory tests, such as X-rays and blood work, medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and hospital beds, orthotics (devices that support your joints) and prosthetics (artificial body parts), mental health care and ambulance services. Medicare also covers a number of preventive services that can help you to stay healthy. There is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. In 2013, the standard premium is $104.90. Some high-income individuals pay more than the standard premium. Your Part B premium also can be higher if you do not enroll during your initial enrollment period, or when you first become eligible. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, you can delay your Medicare Part B enrollment without having to pay higher premiums if you are covered under a group health plan based on your own current employment or the current employment of any family member. If this situation applies to you, you have a "special enrollment period" in which to sign up for Medicare Part B without paying the premium surcharge for late enrollment.

Counselors are available to help understand these decisions. Call 272-3620 and request an appointment with a SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counselor of Kansas) counselor.

Next week this column will cover Medicare supplements.

Tax form donations

Have you filed your taxes yet? On Kansas Form K-40 you are offered the opportunity to donate to a variety of funds such as military emergency, Kansas Hometown Heroes, breast cancer research and senior citizen Meals on Wheels. All of these donations go to worthy causes. Your senior citizen meals on wheels donation will benefit meals in most communities in Kansas except in Finney County.

In Finney County our Meals on Wheels program is provided with funds from Finney County, local foundations and trusts and from donations from the community. Meals on Wheels in Finney County does not benefit from the K-40 donations. If you want to support the Meals on Wheels program in Finney County, you can do so by a contribution directly to the senior center, noting a Meals on Wheels donation. Your help will provide meals to your friends and neighbors.

Food donations

Join us at the senior center as we collect nonperishable food items. Bring your donations by the senior center anytime this week. We will see that your donations are delivered to Emmaus House where they benefit your friends and neighbors.

Driving class

AARP Defensive Driving class will be offered March 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 pm. The cost is $12 for AARP members (bring your AARP card) and $14 for non-members. Everyone must bring their driver's license. Call 272-3620 to reserve a seat.

Rides to airport

Effective March 1, Finney County Transit began providing transportation to Garden City Regional Airport. Make your booking early for pick up and drop off at your home by calling 272-3626 or stop by the Finney County Transit office at 1008 N. 11th St. Fare is $5 per person. The service is not available on weekends.

Thanks for help

Many thanks to the volunteers from First Southern Baptist Church, Jamie Hitchcock and Duane Riley who delivered Meals on Wheels last week.

Are you interested in helping with Meals on Wheels? Substitute drivers are always needed. If you would like to help, call Patti at 272-3620 or 260-6282.

Scheduled activities

Thursday, the TOPS Club will meet at 9 a.m., followed by art class at 10 a.m. Gentle exercises start at 11 a.m. The Ambassador Singers practice at 1 p.m. Skip-Bo begins at 1 p.m. Yoga begins at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, the day begins with line dancing at 8:30 a.m. A nurse from St. Catherine Hospital will be here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge starts at 12:45 p.m.

Saturday, the pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday has duplicate bridge at 2 p.m.

Monday begins with walking at 8:30 a.m. The Humdingers Band practices at 12:30 p.m. Double pinochle begins at 12:30 p.m. Duplicate bridge starts at 7 p.m.

Tuesday has gentle exercises at 11 a.m. Pitch starts at 12:30 p.m. Bridge begins at 1:15 p.m. The Finney County Committee on Aging meets at 2 p.m. This is the board of directors for the senior center and Finney County Transit. The public is always welcome at these public meetings.

March 20 has line dancing at 8:30 a.m. AARP Defensive Driving begins at 9:30 a.m. Pinochle starts at 12:40 p.m. The regular Wednesday night dance featuring the Ortiz Band begins at 7:30 p.m. The recommended donation is $5.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Chili, baked potato, carrots, cinnamon roll, fruit cocktail.

Friday: Baked fish or chicken breast, rice pilaf, wheat roll, Italian vegetables, a brownie.

Monday: Swiss steak with tomatoes, baked potato, mixed vegetables, roll, tropical fruit.

Tuesday: Chicken casserole, corn, tossed salad, wheat roll, baked apple.

March 20: Salmon patties, creamed peas, carrots, strawberries and bananas, roll.

2013 Celebrating 35 years at the Senior Center of Finney County. Check out our website at