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FORT WORTH The most important shopping for seniors this holiday season might be for supplemental medicare insurance.

Elaine Cohen said registering was so confusing it brought her to tears. The looming Dec. 7 deadline did her no favors either.

'It was very stressful,' says Cohen, 'and I didn't know what I was going to do.'

Cohen came to get Medicare questions answered at a United Healthcare storefront at Ridgmar Mall on Friday.

Nearly half a million Dallas/Fort Worth Area seniors are older than 65. Insurance counselors say many don't realize the difference between Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

'They think they can go to the exchange and enroll, but they can't,' explains United HealthCare's Mike Nores. 'It's for people under the age of 65.'

'I called the insurance company and asked them about it,' saysJerry Zeller, a senior who had many questions about the process. 'And they said, no I don't have to worry about it.'

'It confuses them,' said insurance agent Cortland McLeod. 'Because with the Affordable Care Act, they talk about Medicare and Medicaid and it has no part in that at all. It's strictly for people in younger ages, not older ages.'

Younger people who need insurance have until March 31 to sign up through healthcare.gov.

There are only eight days left for seniors to sign up for a supplemental plan to cover what Medicare doesn't.

Seniors whomiss the Dec. 7deadline won't get another chance until next fall.

Supplemental plans are available through private insurance companies or at medicare.gov, which, unlike the troubled Obamacare website healthcare.gov, is working just fine.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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