Farrell: The Medicare coverage puzzle means homework

  • Article by: CHRIS FARRELL
  • Updated: December 21, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Q: Could you explore how we can best use our limited fixed income when it comes to purchasing health care options? My wife and I are going to be eligible for Medicare in one year.

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dennisbyronDec. 21, 13 3:06 PM

Doug or anyone else in Doug's position: Not that it matters to you, Doug, but Medicare is not just for those "Americans 65 and over." A lot of disabled people under 65 use it too and you don't even need to be an American, as long as you have been here legally long enough and paid in. There are few misleading sentences above as well: 1. The author above says "Part B comes with a monthly premium, adjusted to some degree for income." It's actually adjusted to a great degree for income: nationally about 15%-20% pay nothing or a greatly reduced rate from the standard $104.90 a month and 10%-15% pay much more than the standard. Given your question, look into whether you qualify for a reduced rate through your local Medicaid office. 2. The author says "Medicare Part D is the prescription drug benefit provided by private companies." All parts of Medicare are administered by private insurance companies that are heavily regulated by the Federal government. The word private in that last sentence is meaningless and misleading. The big thing with D -- as the author states -- is that, unlike with A and B, it provides you some choices. 3. The author says "One choice is Medicare Advantage, a managed-care option offered by private insurers." Ditto about private. The bigger issue with this sentence is that Medicare Advantage is not an option of Part D as the sentence implies; Medicare Advantage is Part C of Medicare and is the public Medicare supplement option. It is an option as compared to getting private retiree insurance (if your former employer offers it) or getting a private policy called Medigap. Nationally over 97% of the people on Medicare make one of these choices to supplement Medicare Parts A and B or they get on welfare to supplement Medicare.

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