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Decision Time Approaching for those on Medicare - Daily Nonpareil

If you haven’t noticed from the up-tick in TV commercials about Medicare coverage, take notice here – the Medicare Annual Election Period, sometimes called Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, is just a couple short weeks away, starting on October 15th. This is the time when you can, if you wish, change your Medicare coverage from your current provider, and this year’s insurance election period runs through December 7th. Should you change your coverage? Well, it is important to know if your current plan still satisfies your healthcare needs, or whether you should explore alternatives which better align with your current situation. Plans may also change from year to year, so your current plan may be different next year, both in cost and coverage provided, and may no longer provide optimum coverage for you. Whatever the case, as this Daily Nonpareil article by Maurie Backman explains, now is when you should start evaluating whether your current Medicare plan is still the best option for you. Click here to read more.

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Comments On This Topic

  1. What I do not understand is why I have to continue paying for I must pay for Medicare when I do not use it. Being a Nam Veteran I use VA doctors and the VA hospital for my medical needs. To me this is akin to paying for a full size SUV but driving forced to drive a compact car. Or paying for a T-Bone steak but only getting a hamburger. I am being told that I can use the VA all I want but still have to have the Medicare benefits taken from my Social Security check ever month.

    • James,
      First of all, thank you for your military service. I understand your dislike with paying into Medicare without currently using Medicare benefits, but I’ll try to clarify. First of all, since you are receiving Social Security you are not paying a premium for Medicare Part A (which is coverage for inpatient hospitalization services); those eligible for Social Security are entitled to free Medicare Part A, which covers you at any private U.S. hospital you might need to use outside of the VA network. It is mandatory to be enrolled in (free) Part A to collect SS benefits after age 65. Thus, the Medicare premium you are now paying from your SS benefit is for Medicare Part B.
      Medicare Part B is coverage for outpatient healthcare services, such as doctors, medical tests, etc., and there is a monthly premium associated with Part B ($170.10/month in 2022). However, accepting your enrollment in Medicare Part B is not mandatory because there is a premium associated with it. You can, in fact, dis-enroll in Part B and save the monthly premium, if you choose to do so, by contacting Social Security and requesting that you be dis-enrolled from your Part B coverage. They will want to interview you to make sure you are aware of the consequences of doing so, the main one being that you’ll be subject to a substantial penalty if you later must re-enroll in Part B. Nevertheless, if you have full alternative healthcare coverage through the VA it is possible for you to opt out of Medicare Part B. Just be aware that VA healthcare coverage is not “creditable” and doesn’t exempt you from the late enrollment penalty if you find later in life you need Medicare Part B coverage.
      The decision on whether to accept Part B coverage when you also have VA coverage is a personal one, but consider that there may be times in your life when accessing a VA facility to obtain healthcare isn’t convenient. If you happen to be traveling and need healthcare service outside of the VA network, you could incur very substantial financial debt as a result, or your access to non-VA coverage might be restricted. Nevertheless, continuing your Part B coverage is largely your decision, which should be made after evaluating the possibility of you someday needing non-VA healthcare services. Toward that end, you may find the article at this link informative:
      In the end, you can opt out of Medicare Part B coverage if you wish to avoid the Part B premium, as long as you understand the potential consequences of doing so. If you decide to dis-enroll from Medicare Part B, simply call Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 (or call your local SS office) to make an appointment to do so.
      Russell Gloor
      National Social Security Advisor
      The AMAC Foundation

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