My journey into understanding Medicare came from an eye-opening discussion with my Mom that took place at her kitchen table several years ago.
Confused by the many choices and feeling the pressure of the enrollment deadline quickly approaching, she desperately needed help. Two weeks after we chatted, I was sitting at my kitchen table – combing through her large print Medicare and You book still trying to make sense of it all. My Mom’s situation made me wonder how many more kitchen table conversations like this were taking place every day across the country. It was then I decided I need to learn more about Medicare, not just for my Mom, but for anyone I can help – personally and professionally.
The biggest challenge: Information overload
The good news? We’ve come a long way from Medicare and You.
There is far more information available to everyone whether online, on the phone, State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offices, and in-person through Licensed Medicare brokers – just to name a few. And who can forget the barrage of infomercials that fill the airwaves virtually 24/7 every year at open enrollment time?
The bad news? Even with all these wonderful resources, many are still worried about whether they are making the best decision.
Questions your clients may have as they look to enroll in Medicare
In this blog, I’m going to cover a few considerations before making Medicare decisions; questions clients may want to ask their Medicare broker. If you are joining our blog series for the first time, you may want to go back to review our other Medicare topics we’ve covered so far:
Medicare is a personal health decision and can be different based on your clients’ personal needs. What follows below is a list of questions your clients should be ready to ask their benefits coordinator and/or Medicare broker as they begin the Medicare decision-making process.
Many of these questions, categorized below by topic, come from real people – the clients, prospects, and referrals my team and I have had the pleasure of meeting from the thousands of seminars and webinars we’ve conducted for financial professionals across the country.
What is Medicare and what are the different types of Medicare?
Original Medicare consists of two parts (Part A and Part B) and is often supplemented with private insurance (Part D for prescription drug coverage and Medigap to cover out-of-pocket costs). Summarized simply, Part A covers hospital stays and Part B is for doctor visits.
- What does Medicare cost?
- What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?
- What is the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans?
- What is the best Medigap plan?
- Does Medicare provide coverage for traveling internationally?
- Does Medicare cover hearing/dental/vision?
- Does Medicare cover pre-existing conditions?
How to Enroll in Medicare
Enrolling in Medicare can raise a lot of questions and knowing the steps to get coverage is important.
- Can I switch from Traditional Medicare to an Advantage plan, and vice versa?
- Do you have to enroll in Medicare every year?
- When can I enroll in a Medicare advantage plan?
- Will I be able to keep my doctors and specialists when I switch from my employer coverage to Medicare?
- What happens if I miss my initial enrollment period?
- What documents do I need to apply for Medicare?
Working past the age of 65
As you may know, you are eligible for Medicare coverage beginning on your 65th birthday. However, if you continue working past age 65 and still have health insurance through your employer, you do have options.
- Are there penalties if I don’t sign up for Medicare at 65?
- Do I have to sign up for Medicare at 65 if I am still working and have health care coverage through my employer?
- Do I have to sign up for Medicare at 65 if I am covered by my spouse’s plan?
- What options does my spouse have if he/she is younger than 65 and no longer covered by my employer plan when I retire and enroll in Medicare?
Medicare Part D: Paying for Prescriptions
Prescription drugs are not covered by Parts A or B, so many Medicare recipients choose to add a Part D plan.
- Can I continue to contribute to my HSA once I enroll in Medicare?
- How do I know what prescription plan is best for me?
- Can I continue to use my current pharmacy?
Does Medicare Cover Long-Term Care?
As people live longer and longer, there is an increasing likelihood that they’ll need long-term care at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses. Therefore, it’s important to account for Medicare and long-term care expenses as part of a comprehensive retirement income plan.
We’re committed to help
There are so many questions for your clients to consider but that’s why at Nationwide we are committed to helping. We’ve partnered with a third-party non-for-profit organization called, National Council on Aging (NCOA) to help you improve your clients’ retirement futures. Our partnership intends to provide unbiased, trusted information to help you guide your clients in making decisions that will improve their financial well-being today and into the future. The partnership includes a tool and resources that will help guide your clients through the Medicare process.
In our upcoming blogs, we will cover Medicare planning opportunities for you, the financial professional, as well as describe how you can put the My Medicare Matters® tool to work in your practice without an exhaustive time requirement.
We’ve come a long way from these kitchen table conversations, yet despite the abundance of information, clients still need help making their Medicare choices. We look forward to helping you help your clients feel comfortable about the choices they make.