I don’t know what can be done to make the transition to Medicare an easier process for people. Those that are turning 65 are inundated with mail promising to give them the best option. There are websites, webinars and community meetings.
But what all of these options don’t take into account is that for the most part, each new to Medicare beneficiary has a situation unique to them. So, this means that while they may get some of the information they need to feel like they’re starting to understand Medicare, their own personal needs and questions aren’t being addressed.
That is why working with a Medicare broker that is experienced is SO IMPORTANT. And remember, working with a Medicare broker cost you nothing, they are compensated by the insurance companies they contract with. There is a lot of fact finding that an experienced Medicare broker knows how to do. Important questions that they should be asking you before beginning to educate you about what options would best serve you as you begin planning your entry into the Medicare healthcare system.
First, remember that you must have your government provided Medicare active before you can enroll in other options provided by private insurance carriers. When you activate Medicare, whether you do it online, over the phone or in person; this is NOT the time that you need to be prepared to select the private insurance options. You are just getting the ball rolling so that you can get your Medicare ID number. Without that number, you can’t apply for a Medicare supplement, Medicare drug or Medicare Advantage plan. The time to start down this path to activating your Medicare begins 3 months prior to the month of your birthday. If you were born on the first of the month, then you get to start the month before the month of your birthday.
You don’t need to have this first step out of the way when you meet with a Medicare broker. Many people that contact me for help do so several months ahead of time because they’re curious about what their “Medicare Future” holds for them and how much it will cost and what the deductibles, co-pays and out of pocket maximums are. If you’re planning your path to Medicare, these are some of the questions you should be ready to answer in your initial appointment with an experienced Medicare broker.
How do you currently get your health insurance? If you still have access to larger group health insurance, how much does it cost you and what are your co-pays, deductibles and out of pocket maximum?
What was your adjusted gross income 2 years ago and last year?
Do you split your time between 2 residences or do you travel a lot?
What medications do you take and what doctors are important to you to continue to see? Where do these doctors have their offices?
Your initial consultation will generally last an hour. An hour in a seminar would seem like forever and you would probably have a tough time staying awake. An hour devoted solely to you and your needs seems a lot different. You should leave feeling like the questions that were in the back of your head were answered. Yes, you may have some “homework” to do, but that will just make sure you get put in the right place for your needs and you and your Medicare broker will together begin to “Plan your Path to Medicare”.