How to Answer 3 Most Common Medicare Questions

One of the most confusing and stressful issues retirees face is the decision of when and how to file for Medicare. There's a lot to know, but you don't need to be an insurance expert to add value for clients. Simply knowing the answers to a few of the most common Medicare questions -- and being able to point to deeper resources for more information -- will help you equip clients to tackle this process.

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Comments (7)
Although Medicare Part A is free, it may be a very bad idea for some people to sign up for it at age 65.

For example, if a person is employed, delays taking Social Security until age 70 and has health insurance from the employer with a possibility to sign up for the very tax-advantageous Health Savings Account, taking free Medicare Part A, which is not likely really useful, will disqualify from participation in a Health Savings Account.
Posted by Zvi K | Friday, March 21 2014 at 9:52AM ET
When people apply for Medicare only (at age 65) they have to be specific that they are deferring their SS benefits till a later date. Many times times applying for Medicare can mean your deemed SS benefits when that may not be your intention or your spouse's intention.
Posted by Robert S | Friday, March 21 2014 at 2:21PM ET
As an insurance producer specializing in medicare, these suggestions and comments are poor advice at best. If you are a financial planner and have the level of understanding equal to or less than this suggests, find an agent who specializes in Medicare and refer your clients to him/her and they will thank you and you just instruct that agent to leave any other cross-sales opportunities alone unless previously agreed. A married couple on medicare for 25 years will spend hundreds of thousands on their health care and if you screw them up with bad advice...well, let's just say that doesn't constitute very good planning does it?
Posted by glenn m | Saturday, March 22 2014 at 2:00AM ET
The HSA is great but you can't contribute after you are 65 years old.
Posted by Stephen L | Saturday, March 22 2014 at 11:43AM ET
"Otherwise, I've found that traditional Medicare with a Medigap plan is a great option for clients who have a special health consideration, don't mind shopping around and/or have a tendency to be thrifty. Advantage plans tend to feel more like traditional employer health plans; they are great if the client is willing to pay a little more for the convenience."

I have a few issues with these statements:

1) "Medigap with special health considerations". This is somewhat true but many health conditions can make it difficult to qualify for a Med Sup/MediGap UNLESS enrolled on the initial aging in period.

2) "Medigap for people that have a tendency to be thrifty". Medigap requires you pay your Part B Medicare Premium (most likely $104.90 per month), the Medigap premium, and a Part D premium.

Many (though not all) MAPD (Medicare Advantage + Prescription Drug Coverage) are ZERO Premium plans and most have very reasonable co-pays.

Bottom line EVERY single person is different requiring different coverage. What is good for your neighbor might be a disastrous plan for you. I have even seen situations where it makes sense for one spouse to be on a Med-Sup and the other spouse an MAPD Plan.

I would seek expert advice on you original selection and take your time to understand the options. Then I'd review that choice annually. Inconvenient to review annually- YES. More inconvenient- having the wrong health care coverage when Murphy's Law strikes you.
Posted by Del S | Sunday, March 23 2014 at 8:32PM ET
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