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The Medicare Episode – KFF Well being Information

The Medicare Episode – KFF Well being Information


Medicare might sound like an escape from the costly world of U.S. medical health insurance, however it’s extra sophisticated, and costly, than many notice. And choices seniors make once they join the federal medical health insurance program can have big penalties down the street. 

Host Dan Weissmann speaks with Sarah Jane Tribble, KFF Well being Information’ chief rural well being correspondent, about one of many largest decisions seniors should make: whether or not to enroll in conventional Medicare or the privatized model, Medicare Benefit. 

Then, Weissmann shares sensible recommendations on how soon-to-be seniors can keep away from penalties and decide the plan that’s proper for them.

Dan Weissmann


Host and producer of “An Arm and a Leg.” Beforehand, Dan was a workers reporter for Market and Chicago’s WBEZ. His work additionally seems on All Issues Thought of, Market, the BBC, 99 P.c Invisible, and Reveal, from the Heart for Investigative Reporting.


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Transcript: The Medicare Episode

Observe: “An Arm and a Leg” makes use of speech-recognition software program to generate transcripts, which can include errors. Please use the transcript as a software however examine the corresponding audio earlier than quoting the podcast.

Dan: Hey there–

So, one factor now we have by no means talked about on this present? Medicare. You recognize, that free-health-care factor it’s possible you’ll count on to get if you flip 65.

It’s been on a listing of issues the place I’ve been like, “that’s TOO large, and TOO sophisticated. I can’t get my arms round that simply now.” 

Particularly as a result of: There’s this factor referred to as Medicare Benefit — a form of privatized model, run by insurance coverage firms? Appears controversial, and REALLY sophisticated. 

I’ve been like, Perhaps sometime.

And that sometime? That’s at the moment. Or not less than, we begin at the moment. Primarily as a result of a colleague of mine simply did a BUNCH of labor that we get to piggyback off of.

Sarah Jane Tribble: my title is Sarah Jane Tribble and I’m Chief Rural Well being Correspondent with KFF Well being Information.

Dan: And as Sarah Jane reported on Medicare, she was shocked by how a lot she didn’t know. And the way a lot other people didn’t know both. 

Sarah Jane Tribble: At Thanksgiving, after I was engaged on a few of these tales, I’ve pals who’re nearing retirement. They’re not likely shut , however they’re shut sufficient to care and so they’re avid NPR listeners. And so they had been like, wait, so what’s the distinction between Medicare Benefit and Medicare? And I used to be like, they need to know. 

Dan: Who’s going to inform them? 

Sarah Jane Tribble: Proper?

Dan: That’s us, I suppose. 

Sarah Jane Tribble: This present will assist inform them.

Dan-in-tape: I hope so. I hope so. 

Dan: As a result of this traditional-Medicare vs Medicare Benefit — it’s a excessive stakes choice, it occurs if you first join.

And right here’s the large factor that Sarah Jane realized: if you happen to join Medicare Benefit, at that time, if you first get on Medicare, you’re just about caught with it. And a few individuals find yourself with purchaser’s regret. Huge time.

And really, past that alternative — between Medicare Benefit and what’s referred to as “conventional Medicare” –, there’s actually a complete alphabet soup of different decisions you’re gonna must make. Every with a price ticket, and perhaps some large trade-offs. 

And there’s been a variety of questionable info that comes at individuals. TV exhibits that older people watch have been filled with adverts with Individuals Who Have been Actual Well-known within the Seventies.

J.J. Walker: Hello, I’m Jimmy JJ Walker. 

Joe Namath: Hello, I’m Joe Namath. 

William Shatner: William Shatner right here with an necessary message. I’ve been on Medicare for longer than I’ll admit, and it certain has modified. 

Dan: A few of these adverts make claims that sound too good to be true

J.J. Walker: And get this, I’m entitled to an additional 100 a month. That’s 1, 200 a 12 months added to my social safety examine. And I used to be like, dyn-o-mite!

Dan: Final 12 months, the feds finalized new guidelines to try to rein in sketchy claims from some adverts like these. 

So understanding what’s happening, it’s an enormous deal. We’ll run down what I’ve realized to date, together with some extraordinarily knowledgeable steerage. 

Our knowledgeable, by the best way, set me straight on a bunch of issues, together with, sadly, this: Medicare isn’t really the free-health-care thingy a few of us hope for.

Sarah Murdoch: Sadly, I believe lots of people assume, Oh, Medicare goes to be free , it sadly just isn’t.

Dan: The query is how a lot it’s going to price you– in {dollars}, and perhaps in your decisions managing your personal well being care. And shock! It’s tremendous sophisticated.

So by the point we’re finished, you’re gonna perceive the distinction between Medicare Benefit and conventional Medicare — and tips on how to begin sorting via the alphabet soup.We’ll additionally depart you with some stable assets to determine what your best option is likely to be when the time comes, both for you or anyone you care about.

Let’s do it.

That is “An Arm and a Leg,” a present about why well being care prices so freaking a lot, and what we will perhaps do about it. I’m Dan Weissmann. I’m a reporter. I like a problem — so the job we’ve chosen right here is to take probably the most enraging, terrifying, miserable elements of American life, and convey you one thing entertaining, empowering, and helpful.

OK, in the case of Medicare, the most important alternative people need to make is between conventional Medicare — run straight by the federal government — and Medicare Benefit plans, that are run by non-public insurance coverage firms. And once more, that’s plans, as a result of a bunch of various insurance coverage firms supply completely different Medicare Benefit plans. 

And final 12 months, Sarah Jane Tribble began listening to from CEOs of rural hospitals.

They had been telling her: Medicare Benefit plans are killing us. We’re spending a ton of money and time preventing with these insurance coverage firms to receives a commission. And typically we don’t receives a commission.

Sarah Jane Tribble: After which I used to be additionally listening to about sufferers exhibiting up on the hospital and these native hospitals saying, “oh, no, we really don’t take your plan.” And so that you’ve bought these small city, you realize, people who’ve just one hospital and an extended, you realize, giant radius. And they’d present up and the hospital could be like, “Ah, you’re going to need to pay out of pocket as a result of we don’t take this Medicare Benefit plan.” And the affected person, in fact, could be like, “however I’m on Medicare, you’re imagined to handle me.”

Dan: Yeah. Isn’t that cope with Medicare? All people accepts it. You get on Medicare, you’re taken care of?

Sarah Jane Tribble: I started questioning, how a lot does signing up for a Medicare Benefit plan really have an effect on the care you get?

Dan: And the reply looks like: Perhaps so much. 

Slightly Google looking out turns up a variety of headlines about claims getting denied, and about hospitals dropping Medicare Benefit plans. 

And it additionally turns up a report from the Inspector Normal’s workplace on the federal Division of Well being and Human Providers. 

And if you happen to’ve bought common insurance coverage, it’s possible you’ll be acquainted with what’s referred to as “prior authorization.” That’s when your supplier must get the insurance coverage firm’s OK, their authorization, earlier than going forward with no matter they assume you want … a take a look at, a process, a prescription. 

And typically the insurer points a denial. They are saying no.

The Inspector Normal’s report checked out a random pattern of denials by Medicare Benefit plans. They discovered one out of each eight denials was for care conventional Medicare completely covers. 

Which, you realize, as you grow old, if you happen to bought sick, you may have eight of those requests in a month. 

Sarah Jane began speaking with sufferers.

Sarah Jane Tribble: I referred to as one gentleman in Washington state, and he needed out of his Medicare Benefit plan and he couldn’t get out.

Dan: That gentleman is Rick Timmins. 

Rick Timmins: I’m a retired veterinarian. I’m residing on Whidbey Island in Washington, which is simply north and west of Seattle.

Dan: Ooo, wow! So, is your life only a succession of paddling journeys …

Rick Timmins: Ha ha ha ha ha ha. 

Dan: and swims within the sound?

Rick Timmins: Sure, form of. Though the water is slightly bit too chilly for me to swim in. So, it’s kayaks once we get out into the water.

Dan: Rick signed up for Medicare Benefit in 2016 after attending an informational seminar run by an insurance coverage agent. 

Rick Timmins: … good man, and he mentioned, you realize, the most effective factor to do is to get a Medicare Benefit plan as a result of they cowl every thing, and it’s, it’s far cheaper than conventional Medicare,

Dan: OK, why would that man say Medicare Benefit is much cheaper than conventional Medicare? I imply, for one, a variety of us assume Medicare’s gonna be free. 

And even when it’s not, why ought to … I imply, how may … one form of Medicare be costlier than one other? 

We’re gonna have a lot of particulars on this later, however right here let’s simply get into the distinction between Medicare Benefit and conventional Medicare. Conventional Medicare is run by the federal government. Authorities pays all of the payments. 

BUT conventional medicare solely pays 80 % of every thing and also you’re on the hook for the opposite 20 %. There’s no out-of-pocket restrict. Let’s deliver again Sarah Jane Tribble to briefly say what meaning: 

Sarah Jane Tribble: You would pay out the wazoo. It may bankrupt you. 

Dan: Out the wazoo. As a result of you realize: Medical payments, hospital payments … they will get into the tens of 1000’s, lots of of 1000’s of {dollars}. Twenty % of that’s paying out the wazoo. 

To keep away from that threat, if you happen to’re on conventional Medicare you principally want one other insurance coverage coverage — a complement, typically referred to as Medigap — prefer it covers the gaps that conventional Medicare leaves. 

Some individuals get Medigap from their previous employers. However most individuals need to pay for it. It could possibly get costly. 

Medicare Benefit plans, plans run by non-public insurance coverage firms, DO have an out of pocket restrict. You don’t have to purchase a complement. That’s a bonus. 

Additionally, there are issues conventional Medicare doesn’t pay for — like dental care, and glasses, and listening to aids. Medicare Benefit plans usually DO cowl these issues. 

And as Rick remembers, the insurance coverage agent pushed Medicare Benefit kinda onerous.

Rick Timmins: Principally what he mentioned was, yeah, if you wish to join conventional Medicare, I will help you for that, however if you need Medicare Benefit, which is a a lot better program…

Dan: Then signal proper right here. So Rick did. Quick ahead 5 years. Rick’s spouse notices slightly bump on his ear. 

Rick Timmins: She mentioned, you must get that checked out. I’ve a household historical past of melanoma. My two sisters have had melanoma.

Dan: Rick says he noticed his major care doc, then began making an attempt to get his insurance coverage firm’s promise that seeing a specialist could be lined. He says he referred to as and referred to as, over greater than six months.

Rick Timmins: It was not a enjoyable time. I imply, I didn’t know what it was, however I knew that it was rising and it was sore and you realize, I used to be frightened. It’s like you may’t take into consideration anything if you’re questioning about what’s occurring with this little lump.

Dan: Rick says when he did get seen, the factor was the dimensions of a dime. They discovered it was malignant, reduce his earlobe off, and scanned his lymph nodes. They had been clear, however he spent a 12 months on immunotherapy. Now he says he’s getting scans each six months.

Sarah Jane Tribble requested Rick’s insurance coverage firm about all this. They mentioned they wouldn’t touch upon his case.

In the meantime, Rick says he’s had sufficient of Medicare Benefit. On conventional Medicare, you don’t want anyone’s OK to go see a specialist. You simply go. 

However in fact to modify to conventional Medicare, Rick would wish a complement, a Medigap coverage.

Rick Timmins: In any other case, uh, you’re simply forking out 1000’s of {dollars} in case you have any points.

Dan: Since you’re on the hook for 20 % of every thing. No out of pocket restrict. Paying out the wazoo.

However Rick doesn’t assume he can get a medigap coverage. As a result of in most states — together with Washington, the place Rick lives — insurance coverage firms don’t need to challenge you a Medigap coverage in case you have pre-existing situations. 

Not except you join it if you FIRST enroll in Medicare. 

Rick Timmins: The insurance coverage firms can inform me, no, we don’t wish to insure you. You’ve had too many points. Look, you had a knee changed. You had most cancers. 

Dan: That is what made Rick’s story, and the entire Medicare state of affairs, so hanging to Sarah Jane Tribble.

Sarah Jane Tribble: It’s form of surprising, really, proper? The Reasonably priced Care Act passes and makes it so that everyone with pre-existing situations can get insurance coverage it doesn’t matter what, however it leaves out the individuals who may want that probably the most, who’re 65 and older. 

Dan: 4 states have legal guidelines that do require Medigap insurers to take everyone. However solely 4. 

Sarah Jane Tribble: Should you’re Rick in Washington state, you may get rejected.

Dan: I talked to another person who would really like do-overs on signing up for Medicare Benefit. Within the Seventies, in his 20s, Robert Wolpa was an expert musician, a guitar participant. 

Robert Wolpa: Performed in bands up and down the west coast. Went to Canada with an Elvis act. It was actually a variety of enjoyable. 

Dan: And he labored in name facilities for many years. When he turned 65, he says he bought inundated with adverts and calls and flyers.

Robert Wolpa: I bought one of many mailers says have a free dinner on us. And we’ll train you all about Medicare, the ins and outs of Medicare.

Dan: He went, and bought what he thinks of looking back as a hard-sell pitch for Medicare Benefit, which he purchased. And, over time, he’s gotten disillusioned. 

He says, you realize, it’s one factor to need to name to get a pre-authorization or a referral. “Is that this physician lined? No. Oh okay. Which physician is roofed?” It’s a variety of calls. After which there’s the problem of getting via the calls.

Robert Wolpa: It bought more durable and more durable and extra irritating, speaking to a few of these individuals who didn’t know what they had been doing. I imply and I’ve been a name middle man too for many of my life however these poor individuals. I imply they’re so undertrained and underpaid.

Dan: At the least, that’s the impression Robert will get, as a man who spent years working in name facilities.

Robert has priced out a Medigap plan. As a result of he’s bought pre-existing situations — HIV, a pacemaker — it will be costly: 4 hundred seventy 9 {dollars}. Which is nearly a 3rd of what he will get from social safety. 

Robert Wolpa: And I mentioned, okay. Subsequent possibility. 

Dan: I recommend perhaps his work background offers him a bonus in leaping via hoops, like making all these calls: each understanding tips on how to navigate, and having empathy that would assist him maintain his blood strain from spiking too onerous. He says, yeah, up to some extent … For now. 

Robert Wolpa: And I believe to myself, you realize, I’m 71. I simply turned 71 in November and I’m, I’m slightly, I’ve bought, I’ve bought slightly of the HIV cognizant crap. Like my, my quick time period reminiscence is gone.

Dan: After speaking with Robert, this half actually gave me pause. I imply, coping with insurance coverage firms and all of the attendant hassles is difficult work, proper?

It’s not the form of job I’d want on anyone as they grow old and begin slowing down. 

And it might be a job that rising numbers of persons are signing up for: Final 12 months the variety of individuals in Medicare Benefit plans grew to become nearly all of individuals on Medicare.

Alright, I could have scared the bejesus out of you. I’m slightly scared myself. 

However I’ve bought some super-practical info coming your approach. I talked with one among THE finest individuals within the nation to search out out: What ought to I do know BEFORE it’s time to enroll in Medicare?

Seems the reply is … A LOT. That’s subsequent.

This episode of “An Arm and a Leg” is produced in partnership with KFF Well being Information. That’s a nonprofit newsroom masking well being care in America. Their reporters, like Sarah Jane Tribble, are wonderful. I’m honored to work with them.

OK, so, if you need conventional Medicare, you just about want to decide on it if you first join Medicare. 

And signing up for Medicare seems to contain a LOT of decisions, and a variety of completely different worth tags.

And a few large potential pitfalls. It’s wild, the issues I’ve realized. 

I discovered perhaps the most effective particular person within the nation to study from.

Sarah Murdoch: My title is Sarah Murdoch. I’m the Director of Shopper Providers on the Medicare Rights Heart, and we’re a nationwide non revenue that assists with Actually any Medicare challenge that you may conceive of and we serve like a large amount of individuals on our helpline, about 20, 000 individuals in a 12 months. 

Dan: What would you need individuals to know once they’re like, say, I don’t know, 64, uh, concerning the decisions there? As a result of I believe a variety of us assume, like, “Oh, I’m going to show 65. I’m going to name the federal authorities or perhaps they’ll name me and I by no means have to consider medical health insurance once more, or healthcare, or you realize, paying these ridiculous costs.” And I believe that’s not precisely true. Proper?

Sarah Murdoch: To start out off, they’re not going to name you. 

Dan: And never solely do I’ve to name THEM, I’ve to do it on time. Apparently, I get a seven month window — like three and a half months on both aspect of my sixty fifth birthday. And I higher not miss it. 

As a result of if I do, nicely, primary: I’ve to attend till the next January to enroll. And until then, I higher have some OTHER medical health insurance. As a result of no Medicare for me. 

And never solely that: Once I do join, I’m gonna need to pay a penalty. When Sarah informed me this, I used to be like, “are you kidding me?”

Sarah Murdoch: No, I want I used to be kidding, however sadly, sadly not. So yeah, there are very stringent, form of, enrollment home windows that individuals want to stay to.

Dan: I form of couldn’t take all of it in without delay. I used to be like, “So both I’ve to attend, or else I’ve to pay?” Is that it? Sarah’s like, “no, dummy.”

Sarah Murdoch: You would need to wait AND you would need to pay. So, …

Dan: You’re going to cost me for not having Medicare? That sounds terrible. 

Sarah Murdoch: I really like speaking to individuals such as you mentioned once they’re 64 as a result of you may form of head off the pitfalls earlier than they occur.

Dan: Oh, get this: The penalty just isn’t a one-time late price. It bumps up what you pay for the remainder of your life. 

Holy crap! I had finished some homework earlier than speaking with Sarah, however I had not seen that one coming in any respect. So yeah. Don’t miss that deadline! And about the remainder, the half I assumed I’d finished my homework on, boy did Sarah fill in a variety of blanks.

So, simply to get began, right here’s the large image: Medicare is alphabet soup. There’s half A, that covers hospital payments. There’s half B, that covers physician visits. And there’s half D, for medication.

What’s half C, you’re asking? Oh, that’s Medicare Benefit. Should you’ve bought that, it principally takes over for A, B and– a variety of the time, D. 

And let’s say you don’t wish to go together with Medicare Benefit if you first join Medicare, as a result of for most individuals, that is like your one shot at getting conventional Medicare, accepted nearly all over the place, no questions requested.

Then, you’ll want to purchase a Medigap complement, so that you don’t find yourself paying out the wazoo if you happen to run into well being issues– as a result of conventional Medicare solely pays 80 %.

However it doesn’t matter what you decide– Medicare Benefit or conventional Medicare … it’s gonna price you. As we heard from Sarah proper on the high of this episode…

Sarah Murdoch: I believe lots of people assume, Oh, Medicare goes to be free, it sadly just isn’t.

Dan: Yeah, so every half has its personal price ticket … Or tags. Sarah walked me via it.

And really, the very first step entails some GOOD information.

Sarah Murdoch: Half A, which is hospital and inpatient protection is free for most individuals. 

Dan: So, if you happen to’ve paid into social safety and medicare for ten years, that’s you. So, nice.

And sadly, that’s the place the simple, easy half… ends. 

Subsequent, we transfer on to Half B — physician payments. Outpatient stuff.

Sarah Murdoch: Half B has a month-to-month premium, uh, of $174… let me simply get the precise, it’s $174 and alter,

Dan: 100 seventy-four {dollars} and seventy cents. 

And necessary to notice: Selecting a Medicare Benefit plan does NOT imply you skip paying this half B premium, this 174 {dollars} and seventy cents. It applies to just about everyone.

And folk with greater incomes — beginning at 103,000 {dollars} — pays extra. 

OK, that’s half B. Physician visits. On to half D for medication. 

Enjoyable reality: That is 100% run by non-public insurance coverage firms, really. 

Which, amongst different issues, means it entails searching for a plan. Yearly.

Sarah Murdoch: These plans and their premiums change 12 months to 12 months. In New York, like, we might see them starting from anyplace from like $3 month-to-month premium to $120. So in every single place.

Dan: $3 sounds good, however I’m guessing there’s a catch.

Sarah Murdoch: Sure, so not each plan is an identical. 

Dan: Some Half D plans cowl extra medication than others. Some depart you paying extra for the medication they do cowl. Which one is an effective deal will depend upon what meds you want.

Ugh, sounds enjoyable, proper? Nicely, Sarah tells me there’s really a bit of fine information right here, as a result of we’re not on our personal with this.

Sarah Murdoch: Medicare does, on medicare.gov, have a extremely useful gizmo referred to as “plan finder” the place individuals can enter their medicines. It form of matches up your medicines with the plans that cowl them in probably the most reasonably priced approach. 

Dan: It is a big reduction, as a result of buying by myself? Yeesh. It appears to be like like there are 21 completely different Half D plans in my space, so evaluating all of them could be an enormous job. 

OK! Now I’ve bought Elements A, B, and D. I’m on the hook for, nicely begin with $174.70, plus nevertheless a lot for medication. 

And if I nonetheless need conventional Medicare — nearly everybody takes it, hardly any pre-authorizations to fret about — I nonetheless want a Medigap plan. Additionally referred to as a complement. And, once more, now I’m searching for insurance coverage from non-public firms. 

And guess what? We’ve bought a complete new bowl of alphabet soup! 

Sarah Murdoch: Yeah. So there’s 10 Medigaps. All of them have a letter. 

Dan: Yeah and every letter has its personal set of advantages and exclusions —some have greater deductibles, others cowl some extras, however they’re all supposed to guard you from paying out the wazoo.

So for instance, Plan G is probably the most complete, and the costliest. And naturally, as soon as I’ve picked a letter, I’m sifting via however-many firms supply any given plan in my space. 

The place I stay, in Illinois, it appears to be like like there are 57 Plan G’s on supply. Costs: 100 thirty bucks to 4 sixty 4. 

However right here’s one other little bit of fine information for us. As a result of Sarah has a brilliant necessary tip.

Sarah Murdoch: I believe it is vitally necessary for individuals to bear in mind there that every one the G’s are an identical, proper? A G supplied by firm 1 that’s $500, versus the G supplied by firm 2 that’s $300, have an identical advantages, so there’s no cause to choose the, um, costlier. 

Dan: I ask Sarah: Wait. How are any of those firms getting away with charging extra for the very same factor? Like, why would anyone ever select the costlier one? She’s like, perhaps they simply don’t know any higher.

Sarah Murdoch: Perhaps that they had that firm, you realize, once they had been working and so they have, you realize, preconceived notions about it.

Dan: So when individuals name the helpline, Sarah and her colleagues inform them …

Sarah Murdoch: Decide one which’s probably the most reasonably priced. Don’t make another choice for no matter cause you may think in your head.

Dan: So in fact it seems within the case of Plan G, which simply occurs to be the instance Sarah’s utilizing, there IS a caveat: In some states, there are Plan G’s bought with a excessive deductible and decrease premiums. Okay, extra to be careful for. However typically, that is some actually good recommendation proper right here.

All of this leaves me with an enormous take-away: 

Medicare just isn’t free. There’s that 174 seventy for the Half B premium … after which it’s possible you’ll be a bunch of cash on high of that, for a Medigap plan. 

Or, if you happen to go together with Medicare Benefit and keep away from paying for a Medigap plan, you’re looking at coping with non-public medical health insurance firms that all of us love a lot.

All of the searching for a plan:  “Do I get an HMO? A PPO? What’s the distinction once more?” 

After which all of the questions, all of the run-arounds, all 12 months spherical: “Is my physician lined? Is my physician nonetheless lined this 12 months? Is the corporate gonna approve the care my physician says I want? In the event that they don’t, what the hell am I gonna do?”

All of it left my colleague Sarah Jane Tribble fairly ticked off.

Sarah Jane Tribble: The factor that blew my thoughts is how costly it’s to have any type of Medicare, proper? It’s not a free ticket in your well being care. That is to me, probably the most outrageous factor that you simply’re going into retirement, you’ve lived your life, and America is meant to provide you this promise of Medicare, after which the promise is definitely lots of of {dollars} a month.

Dan: Or it can save you some cash by signing up for Medicare Benefit, and hope it really works out for you. 

And hey: It does work for some individuals. My mother’s on a Medicare Benefit plan — she’s 93 and undoubtedly sees a couple of medical doctors — and she or he’s bought no complaints. 

Right here’s Sarah Murdoch from the Medicare Rights Heart:

Sarah Murdoch: When individuals ask, I believe typically, like, which one is best? It’s like, that’s, that’s not … I can’t reply that as a result of individuals’s wants are completely different. Individuals’s medical doctors are completely different. The place they stay and their entry to completely different providers is likely to be completely different. Should you’re in a plan that every one your medical doctors take, then that’s nice. It can save you some cash that approach too on these premiums.

Dan: And hope the insurance coverage firm doesn’t change the deal subsequent 12 months. And that your medical doctors don’t resolve to depart the plan. 

OK, I’m not making an attempt to freak you out — or myself. And I even have some excellent news, due to Sarah Murdoch. 

As a result of: We’ve lined a variety of floor on what you must learn about Medicare. However holy crap, there’s SO rather more to know. Medigap plans are regulated by states– that’s 50 completely different setups proper there. To not point out the ten completely different flavors of Medigap. And all of the kajillion and one completely different Medicare Benefit plans on the market. 

And there’s offers we haven’t talked about too. Some individuals with low incomes qualify for Medicaid, which form of serves as a Medigap. Some individuals can get authorities subsidies to cowl that Medicare Half B premium. And, once more, all of that is state-by-state: 50 completely different offers.

So if you happen to’re really signing up for Medicare, you’re gonna have much more questions than I can begin to reply right here. 

And the excellent news is: You don’t need to go to an insurance coverage dealer, like Rick and Rob did, and hope they steer you proper as an alternative of, you realize, chasing a better fee.

Sarah Murdoch says each state has an company you may name. They’re referred to as SHIPS — for State Well being Insurance coverage Help Packages — the A is silent, I suppose. And their job is to provide unbiased recommendation. 

Should you’re in New York, you may even find yourself speaking with Sarah or one among her colleagues.

Sarah Murdoch: The SHIPS don’t get something. They don’t have any monetary incentive. We take part within the New York ship, like I don’t care what plan you decide. I simply wish to assist you decide one thing that’s going to be just right for you. And that could be authentic Medicare with a Medigap and Half D. It is likely to be a Medicare Benefit plan. It is likely to be, you realize, Medicare and Medicaid. 

Dan: So if this episode is pitched at somebody who’s at or approaching age 64, the underside line is like, go get on a ship. Go sail on a ship. Is that proper? 

Sarah Murdoch: Yeah. There’s a central web site, shiphelp. org, the place you may simply click on in your state and it’ll form of direct you to the cellphone quantity to name. So, they’re there as a useful resource.

This was a LOT. Let’s simply overview:

First: Medicare isn’t free. Bought it.

Second: Don’t overlook to enroll on time! You would find yourself paying a late price each month for the remainder of your life.

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KFF Well being Information and Public Highway Productions.

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