Boy, if people would just check in with us at
life could be a lot easier for new Medicare beneficiaries!
Though we try all we can to keep people out of
trouble, sometimes we just can’t get ahead of the things that they hear,
assume, misunderstand, and more.
Here are the top five things that we seem to
hear – over and over and over again – from people that are transitioning to the
Medicare system… and we’ll give you our take!
“But I Thought I Had to Enroll at Age 65”
The majority of people that are approaching age 65 seem to believe that they “have to sign up
for Medicare,” or at least one part of it (Part A), at age 65. And they typically
believe that with all their heart.
Well, we’re here to tell you that you actually
do not have to sign up for any part of Medicare if a couple of situations apply
Scenario #1: Taking Social Security Pre-65
Let’s say that Mrs. Smith decided to start
taking her Social Security benefits at age 63. Fast forward two years, and now
Mrs. Smith is approaching age 65, that magic marker for Medicare.
Since she is drawing her benefits, she WILL
automatically be enrolled into Medicare. In fact, her card will just arrive in
her mailbox a couple of months before her 65th birthday.
Now, remember that Medicare is comprised of
Part A and Part B. Part A is hospital coverage, and it is typically given to a
person without their having to pay any premium at all.
Part B is the medical portion of our Medicare
system. But, Part B comes with a price tag.
Back to Mrs. Smith. She has her medical
coverage through her husband’s large employer. She doesn’t want to have Part B
(and pay for it). Well, she can do that. She can follow the instructions that
arrived with her card and rescind the enrollment into Part B.
Scenario #2: Postponing Social Security Until Later
Now, let’s say that Mrs. Smith was not
collecting her Social Security benefits at age 63. Instead, she wants to start
those closer to age 70.
She’s also on her husband’s large employer
coverage so doesn’t need the health insurance coverage that is Medicare. In
fact, she and her spouse are funding the Health Savings Account, and they are
both in rather good health.
Mrs. Smith is in a position that, if she
called in to talk to us at age 64.5, we’d recommend that she “do nothing.”
Nothing? That makes people approaching age 65
very nervous – doing “nothing.” That’s, of course, when we hear the “I thought
I had to enroll at age 65” line.
Nope, you don’t.
In fact, we really like this guide from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
Note the decision tree says: “decide WHETHER or not to enroll.”
“My Friends Told Me That…”
Stop listening to your friends. Now, we know
you won’t stop doing that, but here’s what we recommend. Grab a notebook and
label it “Medicare.” THEN, go listen to all of your friends and make notes in
your new notebook regarding everything that they say.
Write down things like: “I pay zero for
everything; I never have a co-pay or anything”; “I have free dental in my plan”;
“I pay zero every month and never have a fee for anything I do.”
After you’ve developed your notebook of
commentary from friends, family, colleagues, and more, get on the phone with an
Review with the agent all of the comments.
Take 30 minutes to understand the program that your friend might be talking
Also, learn what they may or may not be sharing
with you. Many times, friends might share with you information about their
plans but they seem to “forget” certain co-pays or situations or they may just
not want to share.
We find that with Medicare eligible folks,
your friends and family might just want to “one up” themselves or their plan.
Picking the absolute perfect Medicare plan seems to be as important as being
the star quarterback was back in high school.
So, listen to your friends with a grain of
“I Went to the Social Security Office”
Please don’t visit the Social Security office
unless we suggest that you do. All kidding aside, you really only need to go
into the Social Security office live and in person under a few circumstances.
We work hard to keep you OUT of the office.
Why? Well, the Social Security office is NOT the
Medicare arm of our government. Not that it is not filled with helpful people,
but they are staffed to only process enrollments and collect premiums for
People that go into the office and ask for
Medicare advice, may certainly receive inaccurate information.
We hear lots of things coming from our clients
that just are not accurate. “I was told that I had to enroll in my Social
Security benefits at the same time I enrolled into Medicare.” Or, “I was told
that I didn’t need Part B because I’m still working.”
Blanket statements related to Medicare can
hurt your outcome related to coverage; trust us.
Remember that there will be times that we’ll
instruct you to go into the Social Security office and that has a whole other set of rules!
“I Thought I Would Be Automatically Enrolled”
We often talk to people that are NOT getting
their Social Security benefits prior to age 65. They tell us that they’re
expecting their Medicare card to arrive in the mail. We break the news to them
that “you’ll be waiting for a long, long time as it’s not going to arrive.”
When you are not drawing Social Security
benefits, and you want your Medicare coverage to start for you at age 65, you
need to be proactive and apply for both Parts A and B with Medicare.
We always recommend that if you do want both
Parts A and B to be active on the first day of your birth month (unless your
birthday happens to fall on the first of a month!), then go online and enroll.
You can avoid going into your local Social
Security office and save yourself a lot of time and aggravation potentially.
“Joe Namath Said on TV, ‘It’s Free!’”
If we had a dollar for every Joe Namath
commercial viewer out there that had questions about free Medicare!
Be careful what you take as truth. That goes
for many things in life, right? And, it certainly spills over to Medicare.
The products that Joe was advertising for are Medicare Advantage plans. Do they offer every single perk he
described? Rarely. Are they good for some people? Absolutely.
Are they one-size-fits-all and perfect for
everybody, and free, free, and did we say … free? No way.
A Difficult Journey at Times
Medicare can be a complex transition for so
many. There just isn’t a universal guidebook out there. Lots of hearsay, lots
We’ll keep teaching and coaching to help you
avoid the confusion when possible! See you next month.
What have you heard about Medicare from
friends, family, etc.? Have you checked the information with an advisor? How
much of it turned out to be true for you? Where would you be now, if you
trusted every Medicare commercial you saw? Please use the comment box below to
share your thoughts!