It is no secret getting information about Medicare can be confusing. Agents and carriers may threaten you about getting penalties if you don’t enroll in Medicare as soon as you are eligible. When can you leave your group plan? What is a Medicare Advantage plan? What is a Medicare Supplement?
Your options are to call Medicare to discuss these questions or to check with an excellent resource in Florida called Shine (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders) that provides free consultation. The problem is you might have so many questions the phone call may last a very long time.
When you reach the point you are eligible for Medicare they send out a resource book called Medicare and You and will send it to you every year thereafter. Do not throw away this book. Until I reached Medicare age, as a Medicare agent I used to steal this book from my father because the information was so well written. No sales pitches, no threats — just the information you need to make a decision and become well informed.
You might think you need to read the entire publication to get the information you need. That is worthwhile but not necessary. Each section has its contents clearly marked and the most efficient way to use it is as a reference book. It is a mini-encyclopedia of Medicare that can answer your questions.
Then the phone call you make to Medicare or Shine can be specific and you will have a reference point for your discussions. You have saved time and confusion and will be a more confident and knowledgeable consumer.
Betsy Vipond is CEO of The Senior Health Advisor and has been in insurance for more than 38 years. She is a board member of Tampa Bay Health Underwriters part of the National Association of Health Underwriters and specializes in Medicare products. You may contact her at (800) 603-0901.