Medicare Questions and Answers

Medicare Coverage of Diabetes Supplies

Some diabetic supplies are covered under Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) rather than Medicare Medicare Part D (Drug Plans). These include: blood sugar (glucose) test strips and testing monitors, lancets and lancet devices, insulin pumps and glucose solutions for checking the accuracy of testing equipment and test strips. These products are covered under Part B as durable medical equipment and must be purchases with a doctor's prescription from a Medicare approved supplier or pharmacy.  Not all pharmacies realize these supplies should be billed to Medicare Part B. In addition, some pharmacies, especially those that are not part of a large retail chain, may not participate in Medicare Part B. Always ask if your pharmacy participates in Medicare Part B before purchasing diabetes supplies. If you have additional questions regarding Medicare Part B coverage of diabetes supplies, please contact your local SHINE program at (781) 388-4845.

SHINE Counseling

Confidential SHINE (Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone) on Medicare counseling is available at the Center on Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to Noon and Wednesdays from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Our trained SHINE volunteer will help you with such things as Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drug coverage, and more. Call (781) 438-1157 or 1161 to make an appointment.

This information is provided by the National Council on Aging (

Turning 65? Common Questions (And Answers!) About Medicare

Over 10,000 people will enroll in Medicare every day over the next 10 years. Are you one of them, or do you know someone who is nearing this rite of passage?

It’s not as complicated as it may seem. Here are 7 common questions and answers about how to get started with Medicare.

Q: How do I Enroll In Medicare? Is it Automatic When I Turn 65? 

  • To enroll in Medicare, most people need to contact Social Security directly. Do this before your 65th birthday to avoid a lapse in health coverage.Some people—including early retirees receiving Social Security and those with Social Security disability or Railroad Retirement benefits—are automatically enrolled in Medicare when they become eligible.You can enroll online, at your local Social Security office, or by calling 1(800) 772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q: When Do I Have to Enroll?

  • You have a 7-month window around your 65th birthday to enroll. This is called the Initial Enrollment Period.
  • After that, you can still enroll in Medicare, but you may have to wait for a designated special/general enrollment period to do so.

Q: What if I’m still Working and Have Insurance? Do I need to Enroll at Age 65?

  • If you are working past 65 and have insurance from your job (or your spouse is working and you get health coverage that way), you should contact your plan and review how your coverage will change before deciding whether you need to enroll in Medicare now.
  • NCOA’s free website My Medicare Matters offers some helpful tips for what to consider if you have other health insurance besides Medicare.

Q: Does Medicare Cover . . . .?

  • Medicare covers a wide range of medically necessary screenings, supplies, and procedures. Some are free, including many preventive services.
  • The Medicare & You handbook, which Medicare sends out every year to beneficiaries, provides a summary of many covered services.

Q: I’m going On a Cruise/Overseas Trip. Will Medicare Cover Me If I need Emergency Care When I’m Away?

  • Medicare covers health care for people when they are physically located within the 50 US states, District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.
  • In rare cases, Medicare Part A may cover medically necessary services in a foreign country when a foreign hospital is closer than a U.S. facility.
  • In some cases, Medicare Part B may cover medically necessary health care while on board a cruise ship within the territorial waters adjoining the US. Generally, Medicare won’t pay for services you get when a ship is more than six hours away from a U.S. port.
  • If you have a supplemental insurance policy, you should check to see if it covers medical care abroad. Otherwise, it is recommended to purchase travel insurance before your trip, which can help to offset the costs of overseas emergency care if it’s needed.

Q: How Do I Pay For My Medicare?

  • If you are receiving Social Security benefits at the time you enroll in Medicare, your Part B premium will be deducted automatically from your monthly check.
  • If you have not begun to receive Social Security yet, you will receive a quarterly bill for your premium, which you can pay several different ways.
  • If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan, typically you will pay the plan directly for your premium.

Q: How Can I Find Out How Much I’ve Paid For Medicare Services This Year?

  • Medicare offers a free, confidential online service for people to access information about their benefits and services, including how much they’ve paid for services.
  • You can also contact Medicare directly at 1 (800) MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) with questions about enrollment, payments, claims, coverage issues and more.