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Doing Your Homework on Medicare Coverage

If you or an older loved one are at that age in the magical transition – otherwise known as 65 years old – you’re likely seeing a veritable flood of information directed at you.  There is a lot to process if you or your loved one qualify for Medicare, and it would take a great deal more than one posting to convey all that you “need to know” as well as the trove of “nice to know” information.  So, I’ll give you some general categories of Medicare-relevant steps and links to the details that can help you and/or your loved one make decisions.

  1. New to Medicare – If you or your loved one are soon going to be turning 65, there are a lot of decisions ahead of you. It starts with what seems simple, because Medicare calls them Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D.  Part A is about hospital coverage. Part B is about doctor and outpatient services, and it requires that you do some homework like identifying if all your providers “accept Medicare.”  Part C is labeled Medicare Advantage and it begins to get a bit more complicated, because this is the place where private insurers play, and you may find it critical to rely on a dependable agent or insurance broker to sort out the real value.  Part D is also the domain of private insurers, but the coverage is for prescription drugs, and you’ll want to do a detailed analysis of the amount of coverage for the prescriptions you currently have or what your provider can help with identifying on the horizon…especially insulin or cardiac or cancer or chronic disease medications.  Click here.
  2. Already Signed Up – It seems like it should be a breeze once you’ve already signed up for Medicare, but there are a lot more steps to getting what you deserve from your coverage. It starts with your visit to your Primary Care Provider, but also includes getting your account fully online, getting a trustworthy family member or friend designated as a contact, incorporate your health plans into your life, your travel and more.  And make note of what has worked for you since you’ve been with Medicare and what you’d like to add in the future during open enrollments and more.  Click here.
  3. Open Enrollment – The easy part of Open Enrollment is putting the dates on your calendar. This year’s open enrollment window is between October 15 and December 7, 2022.  And then it requires more homework, especially if you are losing coverage from an employer.  The easier parts are Part A and Part B which don’t need to be changed.  Part D may see changes in drug prices which may encourage a closer look at alternatives that may offer your prescriptions at better prices.  Part C – The Medicare Advantage piece – also involves private insurers who may have changed the doctors or hospitals their plans since you first enrolled.  And if you’ve had your drug coverage through Part D, you’ll want to give another look at what prescription drugs are covered and how well.  Click here.

As with all homework assignments, it is important to start early, because there may be more than you think to be processed.  Please check out the links I’ve shared here and find a reliable insurance agent whom you can trust to help you spend the money frugally and wisely.

Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.

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