What to Do RIGHT NOW
to Prepare for the Big Six-Five
Newsletter Issue #9
I’m Wiley Long, President of MediGap Advisors, and I’m back this month with another issue of our newsletter about turning 65. Last month we talked about how to choose a prescription drug plan that provides the best coverage for the drugs that you need.
As they say in horse racing, we’re in the home stretch. You are inching ever closer to your 65th birthday! Maybe you’re looking forward to retiring from a great career, more travel, more time with your family, and more time to do the things that you really enjoy, like hobbies, volunteer work, or just plain old R&R. Hopefully it’s an exciting time in your life, and I’ve lessened the mental strain associated with figuring out your healthcare strategy with these monthly communications.
Here’s a quick review of the basics
Let me take a minute to review the big points of the information I’ve been conveying to you over the last nine months. At age 65, you become eligible for coverage under the federal government’s Medicare program. You can sign up for Part A (hospitalization insurance) or Part A and Part B (medical insurance).
If you’re already receiving Social Security payments, this will happen automatically, and you should receive your card this month (three months prior to your birthday). If you’re still working and haven’t started collecting Social Security, you’ll need to sign up, and you can do so during a seven month period that starts in the three months before the month of your birthday and ends at the end of the third month after your birthday month. For example, my birthday is June 9, so my initial enrollment period will begin on March 1 and end on September 30.
If you don’t enroll during your initial enrollment period, you will likely have to pay a penalty once you do enroll, and you won’t be able to do so until the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which is October 15 through December 7. That’s why you need to start taking action now to figure out which option is best for you. Don’t worry; our Personal Benefits Managers and I are here to help.
If you choose to use only Medicare’s coverage, you could be left with significant out-of-pocket costs. Medicare has no provisions for capping the amount of money you spend out of your own pocket. It also does not cover the cost of prescription drugs. This is why I cannot emphasize strongly enough that you need to have additional coverage in your portfolio to assist in paying your medical bills. For most people, a Medicare supplement plan is the ideal answer.
Check out our website for more information about the different Medicare supplement options available.
There’s no prescription drug coverage included in Medicare, so in order to cover these costs, you’ll need to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan to go along with your Medicare coverage.
Your other option is to forego traditional Medicare coverage completely and sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans are administered by private insurance companies and provide similar coverage to Medicare Parts A and B. In addition, many Medicare Advantage plans contain coverage for prescription drugs.
OK, I Get the Urgency - What’s the Deadline?
It’s not too early to get started! Some Medicare supplement plans even allow you to sign up six months prior to your 65th birthday. At minimum, you should sign up no later than a month before you turn 65. This ensures no lapse in coverage between your old insurance and you’re over-65 coverage, whichever option you choose.
What You Should Be Doing Right Now, and How We Can Help
Our goal is to help you get the best coverage for your money, and ensure that you can access your preferred providers and the medications you need without interruption in your care. Right now you should be:
- Putting together a list of your care providers - doctors, physical therapists, hearing aid providers, et al.;
- Putting together a list of your medications, including the brand and generic names (if you know them both), sizes (milligrams per dose), how many doses per day, and whether this is life-time therapy or short-term;
- Thinking about your travel plans in the short and long term (since some Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans provide for emergency coverage outside the U.S.); and
- Collecting the last twelve months worth of statements from doctors or hospitals regarding on-going care you may receiving.
All of this information is immensely helpful when we meet on the phone with you to determine what your best option is based on your needs. You can start by going to our website to generate a quote. Simply by taking this step, you’ll be contacted by your Personal Benefits Manager, who will stay with you every step of the way, answering questions and helping you secure coverage. These guys are experts - I know, because I trained them myself.
So - let’s get started. My passion is helping people secure their freedom by taking care of their health coverage needs, so you can do the important stuff, like lowering your handicap on the golf course, teaching your grandson the piano, or scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef.