Can a person turning 65 figure out her Medicare choices and options on her own? Of course, the answer is “yes”, but ….
Okay, this is a rather self-serving post, since I am an insurance broker – but two meetings this week made me feel as though my services are pretty helpful to people.
Yesterday I met with Veronica, who is over 65 and still working, so she has delayed getting her Medicare Part B. I met last fall with Veronica and explained her Medicare choices: Medicare supplements vs Medicare Advantage.
Last week, when Veronica called me to say she is going to get her Medicare in September, she couldn’t remember all the details of what we’d discussed eight months earlier. The one thing she did remember was that she wanted the coverage I had described as “get it and forget it”.
“Get it and forget it” is how I describe a Plan F Medicare supplement. Because Plan F covers all the gaps in Medicare, a person who selects this medigap plan should have no co-pays for medical care. Medicare will pay first and the Plan F medigap will pay second. As long as Medicare covers the service, the patient should have no co-pays.
Since it had been eight months since we last spoke, Veronica needed a review, but we focused on Medicare supplements. Then I asked Veronica if she had enrolled in Medicare Part B – and it turned out she had not yet done that. She did have the forms I had provided to her last fall. One was an application for Part B, and the other was a form her employer had filled out affirming she has had employer health insurance since she turned 65.
Veronica is going to the Social Security office on Thursday, so we went through everything she needs to do to get signed up for Medicare Part B to begin on September 1st.
Then we talked about Part D drug coverage. Veronica’s Part D choices are complicated because she takes a prescription that is treated as a non-preferred brand by most companies. Comparing plans with deductibles to plans without deductibles, and starting Part D near the end of the year, make choosing a Part D plan more challenging for Veronica than for most of my clients.
We talked for 90 minutes and agreed that Veronica would call me once she receives her new Medicare card that will have her A and B effective dates. At that time we will fill out her Medicare supplement application. She will need to decide which Part D plan to enroll in as well.
As I was leaving, Veronica said she felt relieved that she really understood her Medicare choices. She thanked me for meeting with her twice, and apologized that we’d need to meet yet again to fill out the Medigap application. I told her apologies are not necessary because Medicare is a pretty complicated topic. I also told her I have clients who are doctors and lawyers, and they were also confused by all their Medicare choices.
I don’t know how anybody can get signed up for their Medicare coverage at a table in a grocery store, or at a seminar with lots of people – or on their own. I find it usually takes two meetings for people to sort out questions about their Medicare coverage options. People should take all the time they need to make their decision, and for some people that can be a while.
This brings me to the second client I met with this week. John is an accountant who has done lots of research on the internet. He also attended a Pima Council on Aging seminar for people who are getting Medicare soon.
John told me he had called a couple of insurance companies to get information – and he felt very pressured to enroll in those companies’ plans by the end of the phone call. John also told me he had an agent show up at his door one Saturday morning. He was not pleased.
I was able to confirm a lot of what John had already learned on his own, and gave him confidence that his instincts about his Medicare choices were good. John did not need as much information as many other clients, but I think he appreciated the hour we spent together.