Thursday, July 5, 2012

Important Medicare Tips for Boomers

Baby Boomers are turning age 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day.  When they do, they become eligible for Medicare.  It is extremely important that Baby Boomers prepare for this milestone and sign up for Medicare a few months BEFORE their 65th birthday.  A delay can cause them to spend extra money for Medicare premiums for the rest of their lives!  You should apply for basic Medicare, even if you are still working and you are eligible for insurance through your employer.

Here are a few additional facts that every Baby Boomer needs to know before they turn 65.

Medicare Tips for Baby Boomers

1.  Enroll in Medicare as soon as possible.  You can contact your local Social Security office for an appointment and sign up while you are there.  You may especially want to handle your application this way if you are also applying for your Social Security benefits at the same time.  However, another choice is to apply for your Medicare benefits online in about 10 minutes by using the government website at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly.  You can complete the application once you are 64 years and 8 months old.  You do NOT want to wait until after your 65th birthday.

2.  If you are still working when you turn 65, and you are covered by a medical insurance plan through your employer, you still need to file for Medicare Parts A and B, even if you will not be using those benefits for a few years.  Again, you need to do this before your 65th birthday, so you can save money on premiums when you do begin to rely on Medicare.

3.  Medicare is divided into four parts:  Original Parts A and B, which help cover hospital and doctor bills; Part C, which is an extra Medicare Advantage program you purchase to cover some of the expenses not covered by A and B; and Part D, which is drug coverage.  When you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, or Part C, those plans usually also include Parts A, B and D so that everything is together in one convenient plan.

4.  There are many different Medicare Advantage plans, and most of them will offer informational meetings in your community.  However, one of my friends simply called her current doctors and asked them which Advantage programs they liked the best.  She found there was one particular plan that kept being mentioned, so that is the Advantage program she chose.  You should also know that there are different prices and benefits available for the various plans, too, so shop around.  They are all required by law to provide the same benefits as basic Medicare and most of them provide additional benefits and/or lower co-pays and deductibles than basic Medicare.

5.  Instead of a Medicare Advantage plan, you may wish to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, instead.  In this case, you have both basic Medicare AND an additional insurance policy.  The premiums are usually higher than they are for a Medicare Advantage plan, but you may find a plan that will result in zero co-pays and your complete choice of doctors in a PPO plan.  This is very appealing to some people who feel it is worth paying extra.  However, for many people, a Medicare Advantage plan that includes their favorite doctors is an excellent choice.  Go to a few informational meetings and decide which choice is best for you ... a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan.

6.  If you believe that you cannot afford your Medicare premiums, ask for help from your local Social Security office or through an insurance consultant with the Affordable Care Act.  Low income retirees can qualify for help and I encourage them to take advantage of the assistance programs.

If you are interested in learning more about Medicare, health issues that can arise in retirement, financial planning, where to retire, changing family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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3 comments:

  1. There is some misinformation in points 2-5 above:

    2. If you are still working when you turn 65, and you are covered by a medical insurance plan through your employer, you still need to file for Medicare Parts A and B, even if you will not be using those benefits for a few years.

    IF YOU SIGN UP FOR "A" YOU WILL MOST LIKELY BE USING IT RIGHT AWAY. IT HAS TO DO WITH THE SIZE OF YOUR EMPLOYER. IN A LARGE COMPANY, TALK TO THE HUMAN RELATIONS GROUP TO SEE HOW THEY WANTED IT HANDLED. IF YOU WORK FOR A SMALLER EMPLOYER, YOU ALMOST CERTAINLY WANT BOTH A AND B BUT PROBABLY NEED TO GO TO THE LOCAL SENIOR CENTER TO GET HELP

    Again, you need to do this before your 65th birthday, so you can save money on premiums when you do begin to rely on Medicare. YOU ACTUALLY HAVE UP TO THREE MONTHS AFTER THE MONTH YOU TURN 65 TO SIGN UP IN ORDER TO AVOID THE PENALTY. BUT IT'S STILL A GOOD IDEA TO SIGN UP EARLY

    3. Medicare is divided into four parts: Original Parts A and B, which help cover hospital and doctor bills; Part C, which is an extra Medicare Advantage program you purchase to cover some of the expenses not covered by A and B; and Part D, which is drug coverage. When you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, or Part C, most of the plans also include Parts A, B and D so that everything is together in one convenient plan. ALL PART C PLANS REQUIRE A AND B; IT'S NOT THAT THEY ARE INCLUDED. THE REASON PEOPLE HAVE A PLAN SUCH AS C OR A PRIVATE MEDIGAP PLAN WITH D IS BECAUSE A/B IS TERRIBLE INSURANCE. THERE IS NO CATASTROPHIC COVERAGE, NO VISION/DENTAL/ANNUAL-PHYSICAL, HIGH DEDUCTIBLES AND CO-PAYS AND C PLANS IN PARTICULAR HAVE LIMITED GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE. FOR THIS REASON, 92% OF US GET SOME KIND OF SUPPLMENT, EITHER A C PLAN OR A MEDIGAP PLAN OR SOMETHING FROM A FORMER EMPLOYER

    4. There are many different Medicare Advantage plans, and most of them will offer informational meetings in your community. However, one of my friends simply called her current doctors and asked them which Advantage programs they liked the best. She found there was one particular plan that kept being mentioned, so that is the Advantage program she chose. You should also know that there are different prices and benefits available for the various plans, too, so shop around. AND JUST LIKE INSURANCE AT WORK, THE PRICES AND BENEFITS CHANGE EVERY YEAR (THEY CHANGE IN OCTOBER; YOU HAVE UNTIL ABOUT DECEMBER 1 TO CHANGE YOUR PLAN FOR THE FOLLOWING YEAR). ALL THE MEDIGAP PLANS HAVE LOCAL INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS TOO AND THEY PRETTY MUCH CAME FROM THE SAME COMPANIES.

    5. If you believe that you cannot afford your Medicare premiums, ask for help from your local Social Security office. Low income retirees can qualify for help. SOCIAL SECURITY ASSISTS LOW INCOME SENIORS ONLY IN RELATION TO PART D PLANS. IT IS BETTER TO GO TO A LOCAL SENIOR CENTER FOR HELP ON ALL ISSUES RELATED TO HEALTH INSURANCE, WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE LOW INCOME.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comments and clarifications. I actually based this blog post on the Medicare website, in the hope of keeping my information accurate. Their homepage is very general, however, so I appreciate how much detail you added. Welcome to my website any time!

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  2. Great information. It's wonderful that other readers can add to it too. Good advice.

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