Any program impacting over 55 million people is worth reviewing at least once a year. This is so obvious that even our divided government officials can agree!
With its annual open enrollment deadline fast approaching, your window to learn about your choices in Medicare coverage is closing quickly.
In total, Medicare costs around $700 billion a year and it’s growing. Together with Social Security’s greater than $900 billion in annual distributions, these two critical social safety nets make up a whopping 40% of our federal budget. This is one reason the Front Street Foundation’s Money Series is holding educational programs on each topic over the next few months.
To kick it off, Fred Goldenberg of Senior Benefit Solutions will be discussing all facets of Medicare. This will include the specifics of Medicare’s coverages, its costs and how to handle your out-of-pocket responsibilities.
Medicare and the choices you face unfortunately sound like a bland bowl of alphabet soup. For example, within basic Medicare, there is Part A for hospital services, Part B for medical services, like doctor visits, and Part D for prescription drug coverage.
However, you should know that Medicare leaves you with a gap of financial risk because it will only pays for 80% of your service costs. Without the protective layer of a private Medigap policy, it’s possible unreimbursed medical expenses could eat up a big chunk of your life savings. In his upcoming presentation, Mr. Goldenberg will discuss the options you have to help protect your nest egg.
Predictably, this means you have more letters to consider! Medigap policies come in the enticing government-standardized flavors of Plan A to Plan N. Don’t ask about the missing letters, E, H, I and J!
Curiously, despite their standardization, monthly premium levels for Medigap policies do vary from insurance company to insurance company. As always, shopping around is important. However, switching around can get complicated. While you can always renew your current Medigap policy, there’s no guarantee you’ll pass the medical underwriting standards of a new insurer.
To simplify things, among other reasons, the government created Medicare Part C. This allows for a bundled package of the basic parts of Medicare along with the standardized elements of a Medigap policy and more. Part C is better known as a Medicare Advantage plan. Take note, it’s the only thing named with some marketing flair behind it.
Like anything else, choosing the one-stop shopping experience of a Medicare Advantage plan does minimize the number of moving parts. On the flip side, given the fact that bundled products do create less transparency, it does require a little more thought.
The good thing is the annual enrollment period for Medicare opened only two short weeks ago. This still provides you enough time to learn more by attending the upcoming Money Series presentation on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 6:30pm in the McGuire Rm of the Traverse Area District Library. To register, visit FrontStreetFoundation.org or call (231) 714-6459.