Mary Johnson, editor
Next month I turn 65, start Medicare and my expensive Obamacare health plan ends. Happy day!!! For the past two years my health plan premiums were almost as much as my mortgage payments. This year, my silver plan’s $2,500 deductible convinced me to put off doctor visits while I waited for Medicare to start — something a growing number of people under the age of 65 are doing, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. I expect to pay much less for better insurance when Medicare starts, but it took a considerable amount of digging to come up with the best coverage for my budget.
Enrolling in Medicare is a complicated and aggravating process. The system is rigged in favor of supplemental and Medicare Advantage insurers, while Medicare beneficiaries have a tough job figuring out the best health coverage choices. What you don’t know could cost you dearly. Like everyone else, I had to learn about my current Medicare coverage options, do cost comparisons, and listen through mind-numbing calls with insurance company representatives.
What I did not do is read ANY of the junk mail from insurers. Find a 30-gallon trash can and throw that stuff away. Sadly, I have no sure - fire way to combat the telemarketing robocalls to landline phones. If you get them, just hang up immediately. Do the same for all telemarketing calls. NEVER buy Medicare insurance from strangers or anyone who calls you on the phone! The chances of scam and identity theft are too great. If you haven’t already done so, list your phone numbers with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. If listed, companies aren’t supposed to call you, but it is not fail safe.
Clearly the private sector and crooks know when we are turning 65, so why can’t Uncle Sam do a better job helping people find their best insurance choices? Medicare could notify 64 - year - olds by letters outlining when their Initial Medicare Enrollment begins, and outline the rules for people who have health insurance through a current or former employers. But so far the public gets little reliable guidance.
For those of you under 65 who feel overwhelmed by the enrollment process, get yourself some free one-on-one counseling through your State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) that operate through most Area Agencies on Aging or local senior centers or senior services departments. To learn more about the process that I used for choosing my Medicare coverage, read the article “Shopping for Medicare Coverage For The First Time?”.