SHIIP LogoWhen you turned 16, you didn’t automatically get your driver’s license; instead you had to take an exam and prove that you were a safe driver. There was a specific order and procedure for getting your driver’s license, and the same is true for enrolling in Medicare for the first time when you turn 65.

Much like you anticipated turning 16 and getting your driver’s license, you must anticipate and plan for becoming a Medicare beneficiary. Don’t wait until you’re 65 to start thinking about your Medicare choices. Start now and let SHIIP, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, help you.

SHIIP, a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance, provides free, unbiased information about Medicare and other insurance-related issues. There are SHIIP sites in all 100 counties in North Carolina. It is recommended that you contact SHIIP to review your Medicare options before you need to enroll so that you don’t make any hurried decisions at the last minute. Your Medicare choices will depend on several factors, including:

Are you retired, or will you or your spouse continue to work?

Will you have access to medical and/or prescription drug coverage through an Employer Group Health Plan?

How does your Employer Group Health Plan compare with Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans?

Of course, there are other things to consider. SHIIP can help you explore your Medicare options over the phone or you can meet with a SHIIP counselor in-person in your home county. To arrange an appointment, contact SHIIP at 855-408-1212 or visit

Don’t wait to make your Medicare decisions — you can and should start the process before you turn 65. Let SHIIP help you understand your options and get you on the road to Medicare.