Navigating Medicare

For now, I continue to work and have medical insurance coverage through my employer.  As much as I might complain about the premium costs and the deductibles, I continue to be thankful I have medical insurance, otherwise my husband and I would have long ago either filed for bankruptcy or given up all medical treatment and gambled with our future health.  Unfortunately we both fall into the pre-existing condition category and are pleased that medical fact can no longer be held against us or we would be forced to pay even high premiums if we need to look for a different insurer.

Many of you reading this may already be covered by Medicare, either due to your age (65 or older) or more likely because you have Multiple Sclerosis and qualify for this assistance.  As for my husband, he entered the next era in September when he aged into Medicare coverage in September.  We listened to the benefits manager at my work place, since he is covered by my employer, and did the appropriate thing –  we threw up our hands in total confusion and made an appointment with an outside company that is contracted to handle our benefits, as well as help us navigate the Medicare system as necessary.

You would think an hour and a half later we would have a better understanding of the process and our options.  You would also be wrong because we left with a stack of different plans to look at for the Medicare Part D coverage.  Prescription coverage and the dreaded doughnut hole was left for another day.  Again, once we were home and discussing what we had heard, our confusion continued.

Through a misstep in communication, we did not file for Medicare coverage for hubby until 2 months after his 65th birthday, and we feared some type of penalty for not reporting in, although he will stay on my insurance as long as I work.   There was not a problem – we, really meaning I since he is pretty computer phobic and leaves much of this to me, completed the online application, and had a confirmation of his acceptance into Medicare within 3 days.  Then the official letter and his card came through the US mail in about two weeks – it could not have been easier, but then again we don’t have to pick a Plan B or D right now which is where it gets so confusing.

We have not had Medicare coverage previously so we don’t have to be concerned about the changes that arrived January 1, 2014, thanks to the sweeping healthcare reforms. I think we might be even more confused if we had to understand those, too.   Just a few weeks ago I sat in another presentation at work that reviewed Medicare coverage, pending changes, and how they are applied and I came away almost as confused.  This time though, I only left with a paper copy of a PowerPoint presentation and not a stack of glossy brochures trying to lure me to sign up for a particular company’s Part D coverage.

If you are like me, you understand when I say sometimes I don’t want to have to make informed choices – when it comes to my healthcare insurance, I just want someone to tell me which plan will be best for me.  Unfortunately, Medicare coverage requires us to understand the options so we don’t make errors that can cost us significantly into the future.

There have been a number of online presentations about Medicare that I listened to in the past year, and by far the best and clearest explanation tailored to our special MS needs, was presented by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA).  Cleaning up my computer files today I came across a link I had saved back in October, but hadn’t found the time to listen to – it was the link for Understanding Medicare in a new Era, a webinar hosted by MSAA.  MSAA recently became a partner with this website, MultipleSclerosis.net, and they are known for their quality patient work and this webinar is no exception.

I wish I had listened to this sooner, but for 2014 my husband will remain on my employer’s medical insurance. After listening to this webinar I’m hopeful this time I actually understand Medicare until they make more changes, and before 2015 arrives we can make that dreaded informed choice.  I wish I had known to share web link sooner, but I will just have to accept the adage better late than never applies in this case.

If you have Medicare coverage you probably already know the material presented in this webinar, but if you are like me and new to the system, it is a good way to spend an hour that should pay off in many ways in future health care. You can access Understanding Medicare in a New Era,  at YouTube via http://bit.ly/19NG9tz. I hope you find it useful.

Wishing you well,

Laura

 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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