Continued Travails of a Baby Boomer

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Like many, I get my health insurance through my spouse’s employer. It’s great coverage, but things really change when I turn 65 and am eligible for Medicare. I will no longer get coverage. That is not necessarily the result for all employer plans. You need to check the actual policy to be sure.

In any event, I have to make sure I have alternative insurance in place when I turn 65. I don’t want to be like a client I once had who also lost coverage at 65 and assumed that he was automatically enrolled in Medicare. He continued to work and did not apply for Social Security. About three months after turning 65, he had a major medical problem that cost tens of thousands of dollars. That’s when he found out that he did not have insurance and did not have Medicare. He was on the hook for all of it. Needless to say, it put a dent in his retirement plans.

Medicare has four components: Part A is hospital insurance, Part B is medical insurance (physicians, outpatient services, medical supplies and home health care), Part C is the alternative option of managed care, and Part D is the prescription drug benefit.

People are automatically enrolled in Part A when they apply for Social Security. For people like me who are not going to apply for Social Security until later, there is a separate Medicare application. I intend to get started on that application at least 90 days before I turn 65.

I am also going to get Part B. It’s not hard because everyone who gets Part A is automatically enrolled in Part B. You have to decline enrollment if you don’t want it. I am going to enroll in Part B (regardless of whether or not there is coverage under my wife’s insurance at that time) because there is a 10 percent penalty tacked on to the premiums for each 12 months of delay after age 65. I don’t want that additional cost later.

Besides Medicare, I am going to get long-term care insurance and a medigap policy. A medigap policy is health insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill the gaps in Medicare plan coverage. Medicare does not have any really effective benefits for long-term care, whether in the home, assisted living, or a nursing home. Medicare has gaps in coverage (some great names for them… donut holes). These policies will address those gaps.

We are all waiting anxiously for the outcome of the continuing healthcare debate in this country. It’s likely to go on for quite some time. But these are my conclusions for handling the baby boom problem, especially if you are not retiring at 65.

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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One Response to “Continued Travails of a Baby Boomer”

  1. Rita Says:

    Thanks for the information on Medicare.

    Medigap policies cover gaps in Part B. Some medicap policies offer prescription drug coverage and some don’t. Seniors need to be very careful about comparing policies. When seniors compare policies, they need to determine if the kinds drugs they’re taking are covered. Some states have programs in the insurance commissioner’s office where you can get help comparing policies.

    Part C is Medicare Advantage. This allows a private firm to manage your Medicare benefits and give you a private insurance policy to fill in the Medicare gaps. The federal government subsidizes these private insurance companies, paying them extra money for each $1 of Medicare benefits. It’s important to compare Medicare Advantage policies carefully. They vary widely and seniors could sign up and not get the doctors they want or the services they need.

    On long-term care insurance, it’s important to study whether it’s right for you. It’s expensive. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a good booklet for consumers to use that lists the pros and cons of buying long-term care insurance.

    As a consumer journalist, I’ve written articles about the importance of comparing insurance policies before you buy.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

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