Stressed about our Nation and Confused about Medicare?
Regardless of your stance on COVID-19, the Presidential election, coin shortage, riots and rights of American citizens, I think we all would agree that this is a very complicated time we are living in. For some they are trying to make a big decision regarding retirement and health insurance. At some point the word MEDICARE comes front and center! There are a few key points that can be explained and hopefully make the process a little simpler. Experience with Medicare has been that most folks have more questions than answers. So where do you get answers to these questions? Especially when most of the Indiana Social Security offices have closed their doors due to COVID-19? Medicare 101 meetings are helpful, but again most have had to cancel due to COVID-19. Medicare does have a website, Medicare.gov that is very informative and along with internet access that is an option. Medicare also publishes the “Medicare and You” booklet annually and sends it to educate beneficiaries. Once the Medicare education is complete, and the decision has been made to start benefits. Where to obtain a red, white and blue Medicare card? If you started drawing social security prior to age 65, the card should come automatically approximately 2-3 months before your 65th birthday. If you have been drawing social security disability, the card should arrive 2-3 months prior to your 25th month of SSDI eligibility. For those who have decided to accumulate social security funds, put off drawing the check each month and/or maybe working past the age of 65, you must apply for Medicare. Applying for Medicare can be done online through mysocialsecurity.gov or by calling the Social Security office. So the Medicare card arrives with part A and B, its time to look at options. Will the doctor accept the plan, are the drugs I need in network, is there any help for a lower income? Those are valid questions that need satisfactory answers to help you rest assured in the Medicare options chosen. Most who choose Medicare as primary with a Medicare Supplement do not have a “doctor network,” if the doctor accepts Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans offer PPO plans in this area that do not require referrals to doctors, but may require prior authorizations. As far as help for lower income, a couple making less than $25,000 in annual income and assets less than $28,000 (excluding house and vehicle) applying for extra help might be an option. For income and assets lower than that, a beneficiary might qualify not only Medicare but Medicaid as well. Making that first Medicare decision should not be the only time a beneficiary thinks about plans and options. While employed, most companies do an annual review of health insurance benefits with their employees, the same should be true when looking at Medicare plans. Medicare Annual Enrollment Period starts October 15, 2020 and runs to December 7, 2020. Decisions made during that time will affect 2021 plans. We may not have any of the answers for you regarding the issues facing our nation and all of this about Medicare may still seem a bit overwhelming. Every year the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires training and certification for insurance agents working with Medicare beneficiaries. The good news is there are Medicare/Health insurance agencies nearby that stay trained, qualified and willing to help guide you through the processes of applying and receiving Medicare as well as presenting your Medicare plan options. Since retiring, you may lose your group health insurance educator, but the good news is I believe that you will find a lot of the answers to your Medicare questions right here in Washington County. When it’s time, get a Medicare education, apply and receive a Medicare card, choose plans that work for you and plan to review those options every year.