I’m on Medicare, I have been for years. Mr VOW and I made the joint decision to use the Medicare “supplement” available to us because he retired from the Army: TriCare for Life. It costs us nothing.
It used to be, all those “supplements” were essentially the same.
Now, it is Open Enrollment, and the commercials for the different “supplements” have replaced all the political commercials in frequency and annoyance. I mean, come on! Joe Namath?
The mailbox is fit to bursting from all the different carriers of the “supplement” insurance. They are outnumbering mail order catalogs!
The cherry on top is when Dr Phil turned over part of his program to someone selling, you guessed it, “supplement” insurance.
Dental, including dentures! Eyeglasses! Meals delivered to your home! FSA account! Rides to the doctor!
What’s with this avalanche? When did Medicare turn into this enormous cash cow? I’m old enough and smart enough to understand that this massive amount of salesmanship can only be because insurance companies have found a secret spigot of government cash, and they all want access to the gusher.
My parents called me about this, and about which company to go with. They were leaning towards the one that’s endorsed by AARP but I mentioned to them that meant only that the company was paying for the endorsement. I really had no idea how to advise them how to choose a plan. (I’m not looking forward to having to do this for myself in about ten years.)
I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the complexities of Medicare and Supplemental Insurance and Medicare Advantage plans, but it seems to me that the inordinate amount of advertising pushing for the Advantage plans would be a red flag to stay away from those plans. Companies selling those plans do so for one reason, and that’s to increase their bottom line.
To be fair, you could say the same thing about restaurants, car companies, brewers, and anyone else who advertises. It’s business.
I’m on Medicare, but since my spousal unit can’t get it till next year (yeah, I’m a cradle robber) I’ve continued to carry the insurance I had when employed to cover him. I don’t know how its cost compares to two of us having supplemental plans, but we’ll try to figure it out over the next year. I wish I could find a disinterested third party to sit with me and explain it all.
You might try your local State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP). Here in Kansas it’s called Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK), and there’s an office in each county. I didn’t use it, but a couple of acquaintances did so, and they both reported that the rep was very helpful. You should be able to find contact information on Medicare.gov.
If a restaurant – or any other business – starts their ad with, “It’s the restaurant the whole town is talking about!” like the supplemental insurance as I’m seeing the most, it would be a cold day in hell before I ate there.
Personally, I’d be very suspicious about any “Medicare Supplement” that advertised these as part of their plan. At least as it was explained to me, Medicare Supplement (Part F and Part G) only pay what Medicare doesn’t for services that are covered by Medicare; they do not expand Medicare coverage. The services listed are typically part of a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, which is another animal altogether.
I strongly endorse Railer13’s recommendation to contact your local SHIP. The rep I dealt with made me aware of a little-advertised feature that saved me 50% of my Part F premium, which made me re-evaluate my whole approach to Medicare.
When I went on Medicare I found the “Medicare for Dummies” book very useful.
We’ve been inundated with Medicare Advantage ads also - you have to expect it if they only can sell for a short period. We got a good Medigap plan, which isn’t all that expensive and pays all the copays. My wife got a new knee and we didn’t lay out a penny except for some medicine. But it doesn’t come with vision or dental insurance, and I have to buy a Plan D drug plan separately.
I looked at Medicare Advantage plans and the big issue was coverage areas. We visit our kids (or did before Covid) in different parts of the country. Now we don’t have to worry about finding an in-system doctor in case something happens. I know there is coverage for emergencies also. Which plan is best depends on your situation. And you need to make sure that the doctor you are going to is covered by the Medicare Advantage plan - when I looked when I turned 65 none of my doctors were. They are now, but I’m not changing.
The other disadvantage of Advantage plans is the out-of-pocket expenses when you get sick. Zero dollar premiums are indeed enticing, as are the inclusion of dental, hearing, and optometrists. But you might end up paying big bucks when you have a major medical incident. Investopedia has a good critique here.
To be fair, and I’m not plugging them, but I’ve had a Medicare advantage plan from United/AARP since 2004. I’ve never had a monthly premium, nor do I have a copay for office visits. I’ve had wound care for my feet, plus visits from a nurse for no charge. I’ve had hospitalizations and stays in nursing homes and have never had a bill. I had my left leg amputated last year, and was given a prosthetic leg at no cost. I have Part D prescription coverage included. IMO, I am extremely satisfied with my plan. You do not need to be an AARP member to get this coverage.
I will second everybody’s advice, though, to contact your state’s ship, and get guidance in navigating through your options.
I do know there’s a difference between Supplemental and Advantage, but I have no idea what it is.
I don’t want to think hard enough to evaluate everything.
The supplemental we have, TriCare for Life, takes care of damn near everything. I’ve had a couple of little surgeries and one big one, and I paid nothing. We get our prescriptions at reduced cost. They used to be free by mail order, until Congress decided a great way to save money was to stick it to retired military and their dependents by creating prescription copays. We still pay much less than no coverage whatsoever.
I carry dental and vision through my retirement from the State of Confusion. I recently had a big blowout with CalPERS, the fine folks in charge of that retirement. New rules. I had to provide EVIDENCE of Mr VOW being my spouse.
(pause to take deep breaths)
I said, “Look, Lady. When I was first hired to work for the State in 1979, I was married, and did not have to show evidence of this fact. When I retired in 2005, I was still married to the same guy, and again, the State took my word for it. NOW you want PROOF?” She replied people have been trying to “sneak” dependents on their insurance, so they want validation: copy of your marriage license plus one other document, like the first page of your joint tax return.
“Oh, and you have to re-verify every three years.”
Mr VOW said, “Lady, we were probably married before you were even BORN!”
Hello everyone…I have been a long time lurker(years) and just tried to register. I received a response that my primary email address was in use. It seems I registered long ago (I’m not sure when). I don’t think I have ever posted before, though I did intend to. Anyway…
I retired almost 2 yrs ago, and my HR department put me in touch with MediGapAdvisor.com (I hope this is allowed, if not, my apologies). In fact they just, today, reviewed my Part D (Prescription plan) for open enrollment which is annual.
It is free (I believe they get paid from the insurance companies, but not sure). I have never paid anything and they are very nice and helpful.
Worth a look. This is not advertising, I have nothing to do with them, other than that they send me a monthly newsletter, and also an invitation for them to review my plan if I wish.
What I know so far is that:
Medicare Advantage is kind of an HMO. Your medicare premium covers the all -in cost. Your doctor/hospital/pharmacy must be enrolled in the plan, as well as you. (I don’t know what Joe Namath means that you get $144 back every month. $144 is the medicare premium amount.)
Traditional medicare, you must then have a secondary (medigap) insurance and also a Prescription plan.
The Prescription plans vary in monthly premiums. If you take very little medications, or a couple of cheap medications, you can pay very, very little. and go up from there.
Same with the secondary…varying premiums depending on where you live, and what you want included. Your head will be spinning.
I spent my entire career in health care, and thought I knew something about this…Hah! was I surprised.
I retired and signed up for Medicare in January. I spent weeks researching plans online, checked to be sure my orthopedist was a provider and finally picked one. But when I needed an appointment in August, I found my orthopedist did not accept that plan. I ended up seeing another provider and was not impressed with him.
So this time, I called my orthopedist office and asked which plans they take. Then I only had to research those. I’ll be making the switch next week but before I do, I’m going to check with the office again to verify. Since my bum knee is the only medical problem I have, this is the one doctor I need to stick with.
Don’t take any plan’s say so on which providers they cover. Always check with your doctors to be sure.