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The Alphabet Soup of Medicare

by Jason Houghton

Medicare…where do I start?

This is probably what you are thinking each time you consider your own Medicare situation. Just when you think you have it down, the confidence in your Medicare choices likely wanes with each new letter and acronym.

Original Medicare Parts A & B,

Medicare Advantage (Part C),

Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP),

Medigap Plans A-N.

Add in all the:

Enrollment Periods (IEP, ICEP, OEP, MAOEP, GEP, AEP, SEP),

Governing Bodies (CMS, SSA, OIG),

Miscellaneous (MBI, HMO, PPO, COBRA, LTR, C-SNP, D-SNP).

And voilà, just like that, you are drowning in all the letters of Medicare! This is why, around my office, we affectionately refer to Medicare as “the Alphabet Soup.”

Without any guidance or instruction, you are left with too many ingredients to handle. I don’t know about you, but the first time I make a pot of gumbo, I’d rather follow a recipe so I don’t mistakenly switch to jambalaya halfway through! The same can be said for Medicare.

Every day I help people better understand the meaning and importance of all the plans and options that go into that boiling pot of Alphabet Soup.

Refining Your Medicare Recipe

Finding the right Medicare coverage is no simple matter – there is no “one-size-fits-all” cookie-cutter solution. In America, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 daily, so naturally, there are many different tastes and solutions to satisfy each one. When it comes time to make your own

Medicare decisions, here are some foundational issues to consider:

ELIGIBILITY: For most people, you become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. For some, it can happen before age 65 with a disability or other qualifying condition.

ENROLLMENT PROCESS: Get started at the Social Security Administration website, call them, or visit your local office in person (for quickest results, I recommend you do it online). If you are working past age 65, you can delay signing up for Original Medicare Parts A and/or B if you have an employer-sponsored group health plan from a Large Employer (20 or more employees).

TIMING/DATES & DEADLINES: When is the right time for you to move to Medicare? (Make sure you know when you need to be enrolled so you don’t miss a deadline; there are permanent penalties).

RISK: How much risk are you personally comfortable taking on versus how much would you pay an insurance company to take on your behalf?

INSURANCE OPTIONS: Be sure to learn what insurance companies offer to fill in the financial risk leftover from the gaps in Original Medicare Parts A & B.

Designing a great Medicare plan is like following the perfect recipe – you must know all the ingredients to understand which ones go well together. I would like to help you prepare your finest Alphabet Soup by explaining the various Medicare options and choices that you have.

I welcome you to follow along with this Medicare series, attend one of my free educational workshops (local or online) or call me to schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss your personal situation.

Stay tuned; in this series of articles, we’ll cover some of these Medicare topics in greater detail and illustrate why they are important to you:

The parts of Original Medicare,

Your insurance options (Medigap and Medicare Advantage),

Prescription drug plans, and

How your insurance works when you travel – in the US and abroad.

Jason Houghton

Sunrise Financial Services | Independent Medicare Agent

P: 206-420-8520 F: 206-374-2769

E: medicare@sunrisefinancial.net

A: 431 SW Ambaum Boulevard Burien, WA 98166

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