By Todd Travis
Born to inform
“My mother says that when I was a child, I started teaching my 2-year-old sister. I had never even heard of school, but here I was teaching,” said Linda Begley, a longtime Southside resident and independent Medicare agent.
She would go on to make her teaching status official at Decatur Central High School as a business teacher and Greenwood Middle School as a counselor. After moving down to Florida for 10 years, Begley returned to Indiana and began to work in Medicare.
Helping other seniors
“I started doing Medicare and I found out how little seniors know about their benefits. It’s confusing and TV is confusing more than anything,” Begley stated.
Knowing there are people out there who make their living taking advantage of the senior population, she is careful to stay within the strict guidelines of her position. Unfortunately, with the noise people hear from TV advertisements and telemarketers, they find it hard to know where to turn for the right information.
“I’ve gotten just under a doctorate degree, and I’ve never had to study as hard as I have for Medicare – there are so many rules and so much detail and so many different scenarios. Many people don’t even realize what they’re entitled to. That’s where I can help them,” said Begley.
For six months out of the year, Begley sets up a table at the Walmart in Beech Grove during the time period where you can either enroll for a plan or change it (Oct. 15-Dec. 7 and Jan. 1-March 31.) Her primary goal is to what she has always loved to do: teach, teach, teach. Otherwise you can call her for questions about a plan or Medicare/Medicaid in general. Her phone number is: (317) 522-7230.
Finding someone to trust
Begley warns seniors not to trust the phone or TV advertisements, which is partly why she sets up her table at Walmart. Medicare agents are not allowed to call without prior written permission. Plans are also based on the county that you are in so it is important to talk to someone local who is familiar with your county and can inform you on the benefits that actually apply to you.
“When the solicitors are calling, they are breaking the rules. So if they’re doing that, then what else are they doing?” Begley said.
“I’ve talked to people who signed up for a plan and were never even asked about their medications or the doctors and whether or not they will be in the right network,” she added.
The more you know
Begley helped a local resident recently who was paying for Uber out of pocket to go to medical appointments, not realizing that transportation was something that could be covered using the right plan.
“She had a surgery at 4:30 a.m. and who would want to have to rely on Uber at that time to get to such an important appointment? With the plan I was able to help her find, she now has someone who will pick her up and bring her back under the plan. She said that has been the biggest Godsend for her,” Begley shared.
Key enrollment times
Here are a few key times where people should consider talking with Begley about their Medicare/Medicaid options:
Oct. 15- Dec. 7: Annual Enrollment Period – Anyone can make changes to their plan.
Jan. 1 – March 31: Open Enrollment Period – Medicare Advantage plans can be changed.
Three months before or after turning 65: Eligibility begins (will kick in the month you turn 65).
Two years after getting on Medicare/Medicaid (typically from disability): New benefits open up*
*Many people don’t realize this option.
We deserve it
“IU came up with a Medicare plan where they pay $100 of the part B cost which can really help a lot of people. I still need to look up their medications and their doctors and everything else. But with all plans being equal, it’s a good plan to be able to take advantage of,” Begley mentioned.