Thursday, September 09, 2010

US News/Yahoo! go over Medigap and Medicare Advantage concepts

US News has a story ("It's Time to Review your Medicare Options"), by Philip Moeller, on Yahoo! that gives a summary of the different strategies people have for using Medicare once they reach age (65).

Some retired people have retiree insurance programs that continue past Medicare eligibility, to the point that they will get supplemental Part B as part of the retiree program. I did not; mine stopped at age 65. (Prescription drug Part D was offered, but it was much more expensive than that offered by AARP and UHC “privately”.)

People on their own must decide whether to use conventional Medicare and buy a Medicare supplemental policy (“Medigap”) which has many different variations identified by a letter code, or replace it all with Medicare Advantage.

The article discusses private Medicare Advantage programs which “replace” Medicare and include most of the supplementary coverage, and sometimes additional luxury coverages (cut back during the Obama healthcare reform). Medicare Advantage programs are a bit like HMO’s; Medigap is more like a PPO, inasmuch as you need to have a doctor who accepts Medicare.

In retirement (the baseball equivalent of "in relief"), I've gotten a couple of "invitations" to "sell" Medicare Advantage.  Sorry, I'm not a huckster.  I know it has been criticized as not always paying up to expectations. I like to maintain a "veneer" of objectivity.

I’ve noticed something else in my own circumstances. Family practice doctors sometimes bill more for visits to Medicare than some specialists.

Guess what. I have to have another physical tomorrow. Nothing to eat after midnight. They won’t renew a simple prescription without annual fasting blood tests. You can can’t get out of this. And Uncle Sugar pays.

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