This is the second of two posts about my experiences with recently joining the Medicare System. The first post gave you the types of plans that are offered to those who turn 65. There are a number of decisions that have to be made during this enrollment process. I have to warn you up front that this is really pretty boring stuff. I put it off as long as I could and if you are not that close to Medicare I would probably advise you to just skip this post ;)
The first decision I had to make was to decide whether to enroll in my pension Advantage Plan. This really ended up being no decision at all. Since I was a management employee my previous employer was under no contractual obligations as far as my health care plan was concerned. Over these eleven years the cost of my healthcare insurance through them has increased over ten times what is started out. When I looked into their Advantage plan it turned out to be nothing but a stripped down Part D coverage and nothing else. If I join this Advantage plan it would preclude me from getting a Medigap policy. The decision was therefore easy to decline their coverage and go out on my own.
So, the next thing on the list was the Medigap policy. I spent over a three weeks on this task. I studied hundreds of pages of various insurer’s plans and then chose one. I will not say which one I chose but in reality there is generally not much difference between one Medigap insurer and another. The real choice turned out to be which of the various Medigap plans I would choose. They are defined by Medicare and are identified by letters between “A” through “N”. Some covered only when I would spend so many thousand dollars. Some have differing levels of co-pays. Some cover almost everything Medicare does not cover. When comparing what I paid last year for private coverage and what I would pay starting next month for Medicare coverage I choose Plan F.
The final decision was what Part D (prescription) plan I would choose. Most of this decision process involved studying how much I would pay for my current prescriptions. Fortunately there are software programs that allowed me to enter my prescriptions and see what each plan would pay. Again most of the plans were pretty equal but I did save about 15% by going to one insurer. One of the gotchas on Plan D is that the insurer can change anything he want anytime during the year so there is no guarantee as to what he will pay in the future.
So now I have my Medicare card with Part B, my Medigap policy, and my Part D cards in hand. What is the final result? Now that I am on Medicare and all these other plans my medical insurance costs will be about 50% less in 2012 than they were in 2011. That is a far cry from the annual 25% increase year over year for the last eleven! Was it worth all the work to get here? Absolutely, but it certainly could have been easier.
So here I am ready for October 1 and ushering in the final thing that makes me an “official” senior citizen. Bring it on!!