Planning your Medicare is an important part of planning your retirement because one wrong move can cost you thousands of your hard-earned dollars. A retired husband and wife recently asked me for some advice regarding their Medicare enrollment and travel plans. What do you do if you’re 65, retired, and ready to travel, but need assurance that wherever you go, your medical needs will be taken care of? Read on to find out!
I have retired and now my wife and I are going to travel the US! However, I’m turning 65 and having a hard time trying to sign up for Medicare. I don’t know what my address will be since we will be traveling at different times of the year.
I am an insulin-dependent diabetic and will need easy access to pharmacies while traveling. Plus if I have an emergency, I do want access to decent medical care anywhere in the US.
What would be the best option for us?
Joseph, from Cypress, TX
Many who are new to Medicare miss a special window of opportunity when they first enroll in Medicare Part B. This special time is called the Medigap/Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period. It lasts for 6 months, beginning the first day of the month you are 65 or older and have enrolled in Part B. During this special period, an insurance company can’t use medical underwriting because of any health problems.
Joseph, if you enroll within the special 6-month window, being an insulin-dependent diabetic will not affect your enrollment in a Supplement plan.
Touring the US may be another reason to choose a Supplement plan because there is no network and if the healthcare provider is accepting Medicare, then you can receive your care there.
Also, you will want to take time when picking your Part D plan because you will want access to nationwide pharmacies.
Another option for both healthcare and prescription drugs is an Advantage (Part D) plan which may or may not offer the flexibility of easy access to healthcare providers in various areas of the country.
What’s the Difference Between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage Plans?
- Works directly with Original Medicare.
- You chose which doctor, hospital, home health agency, skilled nursing facility, etc. that accepts Medicare assignments for your healthcare.
- There is a monthly premium that may increase the premium each year.
- You may enroll and will pay separately for a standalone Medicare (Part D) Prescription drug plan.
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Medicare Advantage Plan
- To qualify for the plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Parts A & B and live in the service area for 6 months out of a year, or change when you are out of the area.
- You must use your Medicare Advantage insurance card, not your Medicare (red, white, and blue) card.
- Must provide all your Part A and Part B benefits and some Medicare Advantage Plans have Part D prescription drug plans included.
- May have zero to low dollar premiums.
- You may have different co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles to pay and have maximum out-of-pocket expenses to meet.
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Toni KingContributing Writer
Toni King is an author, columnist, and radio and TV personality who specializes in Medicare, Social Security, and long-term care planning. While conducting a Medicare workshop in 2009, Toni was approached by a member of the audience who had received incorrect information about his Medicare Part B enrollment from Social Security. After taking a couple of days to help the gentleman straighten out his overwhelming problem, Toni’s new mission had become clear. Following more than 27 years as a top sales leader in the Medicare insurance industry, Toni would become an advocate for Americans receiving Medicare. Since then, Toni has devoted her life and career to putting Medicare into “people terms” with the help of her books, consultations, workshops, and website, ToniSays.com. Read more from Toni King.