UNITED STATES—Toni: I will retire effective May 1 and now my wife and I are going to travel the US in the new Winnebago that is sitting in our driveway. I am an insulin dependent diabetic and will need easy access to a pharmacy while traveling, I am concerned that with COVID-19 it will not be easy to receive care and if there is an emergency, I do not want a hassle to receive medical care for me or my wife.

Please give me your thoughts on what would be a good Medicare option for me and my wife…Thanks, Joseph from Lake Charles, LA.

Well, Joseph: Due to COVID-19 and issues in the oil industries many are retiring early or taking retirement packages by their employer. Planning your Medicare is an important part of planning your retirement because one wrong move can cause you thousands of your hard-earned retirement dollars.

Many new to Medicare miss a special window of opportunity when they first enroll in Medicare Part B whether turning 65 or past 65 and retiring from work.  This special time is called the Medigap/Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period and lasts for 6 months beginning the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and 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 in the special 6-month window, being an insulin dependent diabetic will not affect you enrolling in a Medicare Supplement.

Touring the US may be another reason to choose a Medicare Supplement because there is not a network and if the healthcare provider or facility is accepting Medicare, then you can receive your care there.

Also, you will want to take time when picking your Medicare Part D plan because you will want access to a nationwide pharmacy that is not only in your Lake Charles area, but also in other parts of the country.

Another option for both healthcare and prescription drugs is a Medicare Advantage plan which may or may not offer the flexibility of easy access to healthcare providers in various areas of the country.

Below are the differences between a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage Plans:

  • Medicare Supplement:
  • A Medicare Supplement works directly with “Original Medicare.”
  • You chose which doctor, hospital, home health agency, skilled nursing facility, etc. that accepts Medicare assignment for your healthcare.
  • There is a monthly premium that may increase the premium each year.
  • You may enroll and will pay separately for a “Stand alone” Medicare (Part D) Prescription drug plan.
  • Medicare Advantage Plan: 
  • To qualify for the plan:  a) You must be enrolled in both Medicare Parts A & B.  b) Live in the service area 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.
  • A Medicare Advantage Plan must provide all your Part A and Part B benefits and some Medicare Advantage Plans have Part D prescription drug plans included.
  • A Medicare Advantage Plan may have a zero to low dollar premiums.
  • With a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have different co pays, co-insurances or deductibles to pay and have maximum out of pocket expenses to meet.
  • For assistance with enrolling and personalizing your Medicare contact the Toni Says® office at 832-519-8664.

2021 Confused about Medicare and LTC Zoom webinar is Thursday, May 27 at 4 p.m. Visit www.tonisays.com to sign up for Toni’s new webinar event.

Toni King, Medicare author/advocate is giving a $5 discount to the Toni Says® readers on the new 2021Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book at www.tonisays.com. Have a Medicare question? Call 832-519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com.