June 22nd, 2010 at 1:01 am
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Signing On to Medicare: A First Hand Experience – Part 2

by Carol Bursack

Recently, I wrote about turning 65 and my foray into Medicare territory as a personal journey. Though I’m not retired, I did manage to get signed up for Medicare Part A – the Medicare we  can get at 65, which at least partially covers major medical costs.

For those who have a work history qualifying them for Social Security, there is no charge. The premiums were paid up front with your past paychecks. Otherwise there may be a premium. But the journey continues…

Since I was not retiring when I signed up, and I didn’t want Medicare Part B which we pay premiums for to begin until the month after my birthday month, I ran into a couple of glitches.

Since I knew that there is an “open enrollment period” for all Medicare, which is generally the three months before and after your birthday, or January 1 through March 31 of the next year (please see Understanding Open Enrollment Periods for exceptions and clarification), I began researching three months ago.

I’ve been on COBRA insurance through a former employer through the month of June, so it was financially to my advantage to wait until July 1 to sign up for Medicare Part B. Medicare Part B helps pay for doctor visits, out-patient care and other needs, including some medical equipment.

After several phone chats with very helpful people, I received a form and the person who filled it out on his end put down my Medicare Part B as  starting July 1. He then mailed the form to me.

I got the form, signed it and sent it back. Before long, I got my Medicare card with both Parts A and B starting June 1, plus the June bill for Part B.

Better to have more health insurance than not enough, but the premium, which for me will be around $110, is  – well $110 I could use elsewhere.  I haven’t had need for any health insurance (yet) this month, and it all got straightened out, but still, remember that if you are doing anything unusual – anything at all – you can easily confuse the system. I should have waited until after the first of June to send in the paperwork for Medicare Part B, and the glitch could have been avoided. Live and learn.

In Part 3  (am I starting to write in Medicare language?) of this Medicare series, I’ll write about my experience with Medicare supplements where you can choose plans with differing premiums and deductibles, plus Medicare Part D for prescription coverage.

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