Turn­ing 65? Here’s what to know about So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Janet Col­li­ton Colum­nist

Re­tire­ment used to be sim­pler. At age 65 you would gen­er­ally start col­lect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity and also be­gin to be in­sured un­der Medi­care. It was the fre­quently ac­cepted re­tire­ment date from your job and, with your gold watch and farewell party, ev­ery­thing was set. To­day Boomers might de­cide to be­gin col­lect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity at 62 or wait to claim at age 70 or take the mid­dle road and col­lect be­gin­ning at age 66 which is to­day’s full re­tire­ment age, a date that will creep up in the fu­ture.

The Medi­care qual­i­fi­ca­tion date for those who have not been on So­cial Se­cu­rity Dis­abil­ity is still 65. Many Medi­care qual­i­fiers are still work­ing to­day.

This can make things com­pli­cated. If you re­ceive your health in­sur­ance through your em­ployer or through your spouse’s em­ployer and reach age 65, do you ap­ply for Medi­care or does your em­ployer’s plan cover you? This in­for­ma­tion may help.

1. Ba­sic things to know when turn­ing age 65. If you are still em­ployed and re­ceive health in­sur­ance through work and you work for a larger em­ployer, the chances are good that you con­tinue be­ing cov­ered un­der your em­ployer’s plan. Medi­care Part A could be a sec­ondary health in­surer. If you do not know, check with HR. Then check again when you leave em­ploy­ment.

If you work for a smaller em­ployer or you are self em­ployed, Medi­care would likely be your pri­mary cov­er­age. You need to check into sign­ing up for Medi­care A, Medi­care B for out-pa­tient doc­tors, med­i­cal sup­ports and equip­ment, and Medi­care D for pre­scrip­tion drugs or you might in­stead sign on to a Medi­care Ad­van­tage plan.

2. If you need to sign up for Medi­care be­cause you do not have equiv­a­lent cov­er­age through work and are turn­ing age 65 you have a win­dow of time dur­ing which you can make your choices. For peo­ple who are turn­ing 65 and are re­tired or do not have the needed em­ployer re­lated health in­sur­ance, it is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to make timely choices on Medi­care B and Medi­care D be­cause there are penal­ties for late en­roll­ment.

3. Choices you ini­tially make could lock you in later. On turn­ing 65 or on ini­tial el­i­gi­bil­ity, you might choose a Medi­care Ad­van­tage Plan (an HMO, PPO, PFFS) or a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment (Medi­gap) with Medi­care or you could sim­ply have ba­sic Medi­care. If you choose a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment when you are first el­i­gi­ble, you will not have to go through med­i­cal un­der­writ­ing then or later. If you choose a Medi­care Ad­van­tage Plan and later want a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment, you will likely have to un­dergo med­i­cal un­der­writ­ing to change. This means, if you first chose a Medi­care Ad­van­tage Plan be­cause it is less ex­pen­sive and your health de­te­ri­o­rates later, you may not be able to get a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment later. So the safer choice, if you can af­ford it, might be to start with a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment. You can switch from a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment to a Medi­care Ad­van­tage later with­out un­der­writ­ing.

4. Open En­roll­ment is for Medi­care Ad­van­tage Plans (HMO’s, PPO’s, etc.) and for Medi­care D (Pre­scrip­tion Drugs). If you are al­ready on Medi­care and want to change your Medi­care Ad­van­tage Plan or Pre­scrip­tion Drug Plan (PDP), then the open en­roll­ment pe­riod to do this is ba­si­cally from October 15 to De­cem­ber 7.

5. All Medi­care Sup­ple­ment (Medi­gap) Plans With the Same Let­ter Have the Same Cov­er­age. Dif­fer­ences be­tween com­pa­nies

are in the ser­vic­ing and cost. If you buy a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment Plan from United Health­care, for in­stance, and you com­pare it to a Medi­care Sup­ple­ment Plan from Hu­mana, as long as it has the same let­ter (For in­stance, Medi­care Sup­ple­ment “G” or Medi­care Sup­ple­ment “N”), it has the same cov­er­age. The dif­fer­ences are cus­tomer ser­vice and cost. If you want to know what each cov­er­age is by the let­ter, check out www.medi­care.gov.

6. There is a wide di­ver­sity of cov­er­age among Medi­care Ad­van­tage (HMO, PPO, PFFS) plans. The dif­fer­ences among

Medi­care Ad­van­tage plans are com­pli­cated. It would usu­ally be help­ful to con­sult with an ex­pert since most of the ma­te­ri­als you re­ceive by mail are likely to be for ad­ver­tis­ing pur­poses only.

If you are con­fused, get help. The Chester County AP­PRISE pro­gram (610344-6035) staffed by vol­un­teers, is ex­cel­lent or check with an el­der law at­tor­ney or in­sur­ance agent who works in this field.

Lis­ten in to ra­dio WCHE 1520 “50+ Plan­ning Ahead” with Phil McFad­den, Home In­stead

Se­nior Care, and Janet Col­li­ton, Col­li­ton El­der Law As­so­ciates, on Wed­nes­days at 4 p.m.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.