I love this Glenn McCoy cartoon. I imagine he drew this after either helping his parents sign up for Medicare or doing so himself! The process is absolutely daunting!
This year the first of the Baby Boomers is hitting 65. Dolly Parton, Liza Minelli, Bill Clinton, Connie Chung are all turning 65 this year. They all make getting older seem young. Turning 65 isn’t the only thing they have in common. All of these 1946 babies are also signing up for Medicare. Whether they’re working or retired. Covered by other health plans or not – when you turn 65, it’s time to research your choices and sign up for Medicare.
The process CAN be complicated – but a new show I recently hosted for RLTV, called "Making Medicare Work for You: Boomers, Welcome to Medicare," demystifies the process.
The program features a panel of experts who explain in easy-to-understand terms what’s required when one turns 65. The penalties of missing important deadlines, what the eligibility periods are, and why it’s important to figure out which Medicare plan is best for you before you blow out those 65 candles. There are lots of options in Medicare, which is a good thing. But choosing from among them can be challenging. Fortunately we share a number of websites that help make the process easier.
Here's some of what you will learn (SUPER simplified): Medicare comes in four parts.
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B together):
Part A covers basic inpatient care and skilled nursing facility stays. There are copays and deductibles. If you’re eligible for Social Security, you’re automatically signed up when you turn 65.
Part B generally pays 80% of most doctors, supplies, ambulance service, etc. and now provides free annual physicals and certain preventive care. If you’re eligible for Social Security, you’re automatically signed up when you turn 65. It's very important to sign up for Part B when you are eligible (generally either when you turn 65 or later when you stop working or if you have a qualifying disability). Miss this deadline and enroll later and the penalties can be significant.
Because Part B generally covers 80% with no cap on out-of-pocket costs, many people purchase a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan that will kick in where Original Medicare leaves off. Your own situation dictates which is best for you. Compare plans accordingly.
Medicare Advantage (Part C)
Part C - Just to make things confusing (okay that's my personal opinion), the government allows you to go with a "Medicare Advantage Plan," known as Part C. (You must stay enrolled in Parts A and B—and pay that Part B premium, to qualify for Medicare Advantage.) Essentially these are managed care plans, perhaps similar to what you may already be using, that offer the same coverage as Original Medicare plus more. Built-in drug coverage is one option, so are wellness programs and even gym memberships!
Part D covers prescription drugs and since most people 65 and over are on some kind of medication, it's important to compare what you're taking with what's covered on the various Part D plans out there. Again, the RLTV program directs viewers to websites, including medicare.gov, that have "plan finders" so it’s easier than you might suspect to see which plan best suits your needs. Check out "Making Medicare Work for You: Boomers, Welcome to Medicare." If you or someone you know is turning 65, you’ll be glad you did.