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Old 10-15-2011, 03:47 PM   #21
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However, generally speaking, a vet who was "boots on the ground" in Vietnam, will be admitted in the system and given care with NO means testing, your assets are not considered.
Not quite.

Here's the latest for 2011, assuming no (0 service connected - no disability rating), even if you served in Nam:

http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/...Thresholds.pdf

Here's the income level (select your state from the dropdown) for those that are deemed disabled and are in priority groups 1-7:

http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/.../GMT/index.asp

BTW, if you served in Nam (as I did) but you don't have a claimed disability, you fall into Enrollment Priority Group #5, which does have a limit on both income and net worth for coverage:

"Nonservice-connected Veterans and noncompensable Service-connected Veterans rated 0%, whose annual income and/or net worth are not greater than the VA financial thresholds."

Here's the Enrollment Priority Group table / rating:

Enrollment Priority Groups (View All) (VA Health Care Eligibility & Enrollment)

Additionally, for those that are vets but do not qualify for groups 1-4, income verification is done in this manner:

Income Verification (VA Health Care Eligibility & Enrollment)

Like Brat mentioned, even though I don't use VA services (even though I'm a group 3), I still have my ID card and go for my annual flu shot (they always seem to have them, in years when the vaccine is in short supply), but more importantly to have the records update to show I'm "still around". You never know what the future may have in store for you.
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Old 10-15-2011, 04:10 PM   #22
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Interesting links , however I don't see anything to really address the means test. Vietnam boots on the ground would be Group 6..not group 5. I guess in theory a Vietnam vet with low income and net worth would qualify in Group 5 and Group 6
I see a mention of means tests in group 5 but not in Group 6..a little confusing for everyone. In our case living here in MN, my DH got in thru Group 6..with no means testing, we did not give the VA any financial info at all. This was in 2008...

I am not an expert on VA care which is why I have told everyone they should do their own research. I want everyone to know all the options open to them for health care expenses.


Rescueme, I know you are a long time board member... not trying to butt-heads here, but VA care has been a very good thing for my husband and we'd like to pay it forward when possible
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Old 10-15-2011, 04:15 PM   #23
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Vietnam boots on the ground would be Group 6..not group 5.
I stand corrected. Eyesight is not as good as when I served there ...
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Update from the Bear of Small Brain, or Medicare for Dummies
Old 04-08-2012, 08:22 AM   #24
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Update from the Bear of Small Brain, or Medicare for Dummies

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If you are considering moving or traveling, take a look at Part F. It appears that it offers more flexibility when out of your original area. It is not clear to me, but I think Part F can replace Part B.
Jeez, wuz I stupid. Fire'd@51 was exactly right. The terminology threw me.

DW and I have just been studying the Medicare enrollment process today as she gets to 65 a little earlier than I do.

There is Medicare Part A, B, C and D. Part C is the Advantage stuff that the insurance companies want to sell us. Part D is the Prescription Drug Plan business. Those are the Parts.

Then there are Plans A, B, C, D, F and F*, G, K, L, M and N which are defined by the Feds and cover different combinations of odds and ends more than the basic Medicare Part A and Part B, but our preferred carrier only offers Plans A, F, F* and N. And you have to buy Part D Prescription Drug Plan coverage separately. Plan A offers only a little bit more coverage than the basic Medicare Part A+B. Plan F DOES replace Plan A, in spades.

We were totally baffled until we figured out that Medicare has PARTS A, B, C and D and so forth, but the supplemental PLANS are ALSO named Plan A, Plan F and Plan N (for Premera in our county in WA state). (We were trying to figure out why there was a price to "Plan A" which we though was free and why "Plan B" was not listed, which we thought we had to pay for. Then the light came on! "Plans" ain't "Parts"!) Our confusion was compounded by some on-line stuff that mixed up Parts and Plans.

Medicare Part A is free from Uncle.

Medicare Part B costs a little from Uncle (~$99+/mo?), deducted from her SS payments. You don't sign up; it is automatic unless you opt out.

These two do not pay for everything, hence Medigap coverage. We decided to avoid Advantage plans for several reasons and go for Medigap Supplemental plans.

Supplemental plans cover progressively more things. We agreed that Supplemental Plan F* (Plan F with a "high" deductible of $2,000 or so) would be the best for us. It covers everything Plan A covers and more. Plan F* = $68/mo from our preferred carrier.

The Medicare website has a nice plan selector that is specific to our zip code (). https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan...ions/home.aspx We used it to find a Part D PDP (Prescription Drug Plan) that fits her current and probable future needs. (There is a BIG difference in costs from different providers!)

We will go through all this again when my birthday comes up. I probably do not need anything but Part A until we get back from overseas (faithful readers will remember that I am working half-way around the globe these days), as my employer is covering me for everything EXCEPT for holidays. There may be some short-term coverage available, or I could go naked for short periods.

So, it was simpler than we expected, but it was hard to get to the simple part. It was kind of like--you won't know the material until you have worked the examples. We know people who have retired from organizations who have a few more choices that cost them less. It must be nice.

A warning here: If you do not sign up for everything when you are supposed to (age 65 with a few months grace), things look like they could get very complicated. You may have to go through a screening process that could have been avoided, and you may find your choices substantially limited, such as maybe you won't be able to get supplemental coverage.

All this is obvious once one reads the material and does the worksheets. Many of y'all will read this and have a good laugh on me. Be my guest. I do hope that our little exercise may be some help to someone as lost in the tall grass as I was.

Cheers!
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:12 AM   #25
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Ed, your post shows what most people discover when they try to wrap their heads around Medicare for the first time: the structure of the program takes some time, effort and study to understand all the moving parts (& plans!) and how they work together.

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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
A warning here: If you do not sign up for everything when you are supposed to (age 65 with a few months grace), things look like they could get very complicated. You may have to go through a screening process that could have been avoided, and you may find your choices substantially limited, such as maybe you won't be able to get supplemental coverage.
I'd add that even in the circumstances where you are allowed to get coverage, if you don't do so within the initial enrollment window you may have to pay a higher premium as a penalty for your delay.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:16 AM   #26
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Hey Gypsy Ed, good to hear from ya'. Sounds like you're getting to be quite an expert on this. That's good, we can always use one more. As far as your last line goes, I can't imagine anyone wanting to laugh, especially if they've tried to read the literature like you have. Well done, señor. I'll buy the Polar, you've earned it.

One very small quibble. When you say "Medicare Part A is free from Uncle" I take it you mean "Medicare part A premium is covered with the Medicare payroll tax we already paid".
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:30 AM   #27
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Medicare Part B costs a little from Uncle (~$99+/mo?), deducted from her SS payments. You don't sign up; it is automatic unless you opt out.
Not quite true.
You must sign up for part B, ideally two or three months prior to your 65th birthday.
It's a very quick, simple online signup process.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:19 PM   #28
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One very small quibble. When you say "Medicare Part A is free from Uncle" I take it you mean "Medicare part A premium is covered with the Medicare payroll tax we already paid".
Yeah--what you said.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:24 PM   #29
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Not quite true.
You must sign up for part B, ideally two or three months prior to your 65th birthday.
It's a very quick, simple online signup process.
My wife was sent a card with
"Entitled to
Hospital (Part A) and
Medical (Part B)".
She would have had to respond to decline Part B.
Neither one of us remembers her specifically signing up for Part B.
Maybe we missed something?
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:43 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
My wife was sent a card with
"Entitled to
Hospital (Part A) and
Medical (Part B)".
She would have had to respond to decline Part B.
Neither one of us remembers her specifically signing up for Part B.
Maybe we missed something?
Gypsy Ed, you're fine. Medicare B is a default automatic enrollment option, so it must be declined, just as you understood it. See here for more detail http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11219.pdf
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:42 PM   #31
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I'd like to add something. I've been on Medicare two years now and initially it did seem very daunting trying to figure out the options.

I have been really happy with Medicare. (I'm on the traditional Medicare with a supplemental plan). Their website for tracking claims is very good, they pay promptly. They have been easier to deal with than my previous primary health insurance.

Also, you can make changes each year during the enrolllment period. I don't know much about the Advantage plans, but my sister and a friend are on one and they seem pretty happy with it.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:01 PM   #32
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Just another of those little misinterpretations, I guess.
I turned 65 last year, and I was required to sign up (online) for Medicare Part B. There was no automatic enrollment. I assumed it was that way for most people.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:16 PM   #33
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The question for many is Part D. Unless you have other health insurance where they say that it includes Part D sign up for at least the cheapest plan just to preserve that option.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:41 PM   #34
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Just another of those little misinterpretations, I guess.
I turned 65 last year, and I was required to sign up (online) for Medicare Part B. There was no automatic enrollment. I assumed it was that way for most people.
Brau, are you drawing SS? I think the enrollment process for Part B is different (not automatic) if you aren't already getting SS bennies when you turn 65.

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The question for many is Part D. Unless you have other health insurance where they say that it includes Part D sign up for at least the cheapest plan just to preserve that option.
+1

I take no (prescription) drugs so I signed up for the least expensive Part D plan I could find - $15/mo - for this very reason. This gets my foot in the door and will allow me to select another plan if needed during annual open enrollment.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:57 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post

So, it was simpler than we expected, but it was hard to get to the simple part. It was kind of like--you won't know the material until you have worked the examples. We know people who have retired from organizations who have a few more choices that cost them less. It must be nice.



Cheers!

When my SO was turning 65 I volunteered to help him figure it out since I worked in the medical field for forty years . It took me reading the literature three times and then having my 95 year old Mom explain part D . It is so confusing especially when you are also looking at Advantage Plans . I also think the constant literature and calls from insurance brokers add to the confusion. I did navigate the literature and now understand it until it changes again.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:48 PM   #36
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Brau, are you drawing SS? I think the enrollment process for Part B is different (not automatic) if you aren't already getting SS bennies when you turn 65.
That's apparently the answer. I won't draw SS until I reach 70, but had to sign up at 65 for Medicare.

I had a fairly serious injury earlier this year, so I've been interested to see how all the claims were processed through Medicare. I have to say I'm impressed. Being retired military, what Medicare doesn't pay, Tricare For Life takes care of, so I haven't had to pay anything yet, out of about $6,000 billed by various doctors and surgery centers. What a great country!
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Old 04-08-2012, 05:11 PM   #37
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Here's a blog with a grid showing a side-by-sie comparison of the various supplemental plans:

Side-by-side comparisons of Medicare supplement plans… Why? | Get Smart Get Covered - Health Insurance Blog and Information from eHealthInsurance

Plan F, I think is the most comprehensive which I think covers everything that regular Medicare does not. I remember, my friend (passed away last December) had many conditions which would may require many tests, trips to the ER by ambulance a year. For the monthly premium, the cost was well worth it as without it, she would have been talking about a lot of expenses she'd have to pay out of pocket.

Also, but switching to a Plan F from one insurance company to another (required same coverage by law) she saved close to $100 per month.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:01 PM   #38
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Part D was of special interest to DW as she has been taking some expensive medicines. We used the Medicare.gov comparison link to find a provider we liked that had meds at a reasonable cost (there can be a BIG difference in total annual costs between providers!).

For my part, just like REWahoo, I will take the cheapest (until my needs change).

FYI, we did all this from the comfort of our flat...in Baku, Azerbaijan.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:15 PM   #39
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In less than a year I will be muddling my way through this, too. I dread going through the paperwork and materials.

Being a federal retiree, as I understand it I should get parts A&B, but not D because my federal BCBS Standard covers drugs. And I guess I wouldn't need anything else, either.

Maybe I'll apply for SS at the same time. Then they can just deduct the payments for my part B.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:26 PM   #40
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In less than a year I will be muddling my way through this, too. I dread going through the paperwork and materials.

Being a federal retiree, as I understand it I should get parts A&B, but not D because my federal BCBS Standard covers drugs. And I guess I wouldn't need anything else, either.

Maybe I'll apply for SS at the same time. Then they can just deduct the payments for my part B.
Look at GEHA in addition to BCBS next open season.

If I had my druthers I would sign up for NW Kaiser's Medicare + but the paperwork to make sure that OPM kept me as an 'eligible' was too foggy.
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