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Enrolling in Medicare
Old 12-26-2008, 07:15 PM   #1
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Enrolling in Medicare

I'm a newbie to this board and to Medicare. I'm hoping others who have recently enrolled in Medicare can help me figure out what's going on here so I don't have to spend another hour on the telephone next Monday just to ask this question.

I enrolled in Medicare by telephone in early December. I was told I would get a printed Notice to review for correctness. Today (Friday December 26th, a federal holiday) I received a copy of my "Application Summary for Hospital Insurance Only." I was under the impression I was applying for both Part A Hospital Insurance and Part B Medical Insurance.

Will I get another "application summary" for Part B? Or do I have to call and talk to the Claims Taker and re-apply for Part B?
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:37 PM   #2
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I have no clue, but I wanted to say welcome.
Folks will notice your post and I'm positive you will get good answers.
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Old 12-26-2008, 11:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MayGray View Post
I'm a newbie to this board and to Medicare. I'm hoping others who have recently enrolled in Medicare can help me figure out what's going on here so I don't have to spend another hour on the telephone next Monday just to ask this question.

I enrolled in Medicare by telephone in early December. I was told I would get a printed Notice to review for correctness. Today (Friday December 26th, a federal holiday) I received a copy of my "Application Summary for Hospital Insurance Only." I was under the impression I was applying for both Part A Hospital Insurance and Part B Medical Insurance.

Will I get another "application summary" for Part B? Or do I have to call and talk to the Claims Taker and re-apply for Part B?
I enrolled in Medicare earlier this year. In my paperwork that I saved, I have a document titled "Application Summary for Hospital Insurance Only." I assume that this is basically the same document that you refer to in your post. About halfway down my document appears the following line: "I want to enroll in Part B of Medicare." BTW, I'm enrolled in part B. If you don't have a similar line in your document, I would recommend that you check with SS to verify that you are enrolled in part B.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:57 AM   #4
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Thanks, Dudester. I see I have that line about Part B enrollment, so I guess I can relax.
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Old 12-27-2008, 08:16 AM   #5
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I'm a newbie to this board and to Medicare. I'm hoping others who have recently enrolled in Medicare can help me figure out what's going on here so I don't have to spend another hour on the telephone next Monday just to ask this question.
There are a couple of entities that you have to become very familiar with in order to swim in the Medicare pool. The first is, of course, "The Official U.S. Government Site for People with Medicare."

The second is something called the "Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services." (CMS) This private-company sounding name is deceiving as this is actually the "official" Medicare Center. A special caution here: When you first become eligible for Social Security, you will find that your mailbox becomes filled daily with offers from many companies -- mostly insurance companies but AARP is also very prolific. Eventually, you start throwing them away without opening them. I have several friends who "seen" the pieces from CMS as "junk" and threw them away. Those peices contained the "Official Notifications" from Medicare.

The third source of information is your State's insurance department. The people at Colorado's agency were extremely knowledgable and, in fact, more helpful than any other agency.

"The Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program, within the Colorado Division of Insurance, helps people enrolled in Medicare with questions about health insurance. Topics addressed by the program include Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap), Medicare HMOs, Medicaid assistance for people on Medicare, and long-term care insurance.

The program trains counselors working through regional organizations around the state to provide: individual counseling and assistance; public education presentations about Medicare, related health insurance, and Medicare fraud; and distribution of printed materials about these health insurances."

Good luck.
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Old 12-27-2008, 10:41 AM   #6
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The second is something called the "Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services." (CMS) This private-company sounding name is deceiving as this is actually the "official" Medicare Center. A special caution here: When you first become eligible for Social Security, you will find that your mailbox becomes filled daily with offers from many companies -- mostly insurance companies but AARP is also very prolific. Eventually, you start throwing them away without opening them. I have several friends who "seen" the pieces from CMS as "junk" and threw them away. Those peices contained the "Official Notifications" from Medicare.
That's a good point. CMS mail looks like your standard junk mail, but it's the way Medicare communicates with people.

After signing up for Medicare, there are at least three significant events in addition to receiving the application summary. To help you understand the timeline, I'll use myself as an example. I signed up for Medicare in May and started on Medicare in August. The events are:

1) CMS sent me a questionnaire to fill out in mid June. The cover letter for the questionnaire indicates that it's really a good idea to fill it out and send it back. My recollection is that the purpose of the questionnaire seems to be to ensure that you don't try to bill medicare for procedures performed before you go on Medicare.

2) I received my first bill for part B from CMS in late June. You pay for part B in quarterly installments before the quarter you're being billed for. If you get the bill, it's probably a good sign that you are signed up for part B.

3) Sometime, you'll receive your Medicare card that you use as your primary medical insurance card. My records don't indicate when I got the card or who sent it. My recollection is that it was a month or so before I went on Medicare. The card indicates whether you are on part B or not. The bad news about the card is the fact that it has your Social Security number on it. Thus, the card, if lost or stolen, may result in identity theft. TPTB don't seem to think this is a big problem. If you plan on getting medical services, you pretty much have to carry the card around.
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Enrolling in Medigap/Supplement Plans
Old 12-29-2008, 01:19 PM   #7
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Enrolling in Medigap/Supplement Plans

Thanks for your help. If I may impose on you again...

Is there any real differeance between Medigap plans offered by different companies other than price? I'm seeing a difference of $23 per month in the first year and nearly $90 per month in the second year between the AARP/;United Healthcare and Blue Shield plans for my county and state.

I've had good service from both UHC and BS in the past (non-Medicare plans).
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Old 12-29-2008, 01:47 PM   #8
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Is there any real differeance between Medigap plans offered by different companies...
Try the California Health Advocates. They claim they "are dedicated to Medicare advocacy and education for Californians. Our web site provides accurate, unbiased information about Medicare benefits for people who live in California..."

or CALHEALTH.NET which looks suspiously like an insurance company website.

This article at Associated Content might also be helpful.

In any event, I am now remembering just how complicated and confusing Medicare is. I would even venture that the Income Tax maze is easier to navigate... will get back to you next month on that.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:55 PM   #9
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I'm about 10 months away from medicare application time, but a question just arose in my mind

Q: As I am not receiving my SS until age 66, and medicare premium can not be deducted from the check, how is the premium paid? Will they accept CC? If CC OK, do they deduct each month at the same time?
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:06 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MayGray View Post
Thanks for your help. If I may impose on you again...

Is there any real differeance between Medigap plans offered by different companies other than price? I'm seeing a difference of $23 per month in the first year and nearly $90 per month in the second year between the AARP/;United Healthcare and Blue Shield plans for my county and state.
The whole medigap thing is incredibly complex, and I cannot claim to understand it very well. So take anything I say with a grain of salt. It is my understanding that the government has standardized a series plans labelled A thru L, with A being the bare bones plan, and L being a much more comprehensive plan. Right off the bat, we have a source of confusion: a Medigap Plan B is completely *different* from Medicare Part B. It is my understanding that all Medigap Plan X's provide exactly the same coverage. However, different insurance companies are free to charge whatever they want for a Plan X and they don't have to offer Plan X in all states or even in all counties within a given state.

In addition, there are other types of Medicare supplement plans including Medicare Advantage plans, Right now I am on a Medicare supplement plan that I get thru my former employer that I far as I can tell is not a standard Medigap plan, nor a Medicare Advantage plan. All I know is that it seems to work.

Probably one of the most important things to determine about a plan is whether or not your doctor accepts it.

The principal source I used for general information about Medigap plans was a book by Matthews and Berman entitled "Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions" published by Nolo Press. I bought my copy at Borders for $30.

Another good source of information is something called the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Supposedly, every state has one of these programs. It may be called something else such as HICAP or SHIBA. I live in Washington State, ours is called SHIBA, and it has a web site that you can find by googling it. They also run a volunteer phone line. I called up about the particular plan I was considering. They weren't able to help me because the volunteer who most likely could answer my question was at the hospital where his wife who was undergoing surgery. However, I did talk to a guy who seemed to be very knowledgeable about Medicare matters, and I enjoyed the conversation. I have no doubt that if I had a more generic question, I would have gotten a satisfactory answer. It would probably behoove you to call your state's version of SHIBA to get answers to your questions. Asking me is equivalent to the blind leading the blind.
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:17 PM   #11
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I'm about 10 months away from medicare application time, but a question just arose in my mind

Q: As I am not receiving my SS until age 66, and medicare premium can not be deducted from the check, how is the premium paid? Will they accept CC? If CC OK, do they deduct each month at the same time?
I'm in exactly the same position. If you're signed up for part B, about a month before Medicare starts, you'll receive a bill for three months of Medicare part B. In other words, you pay ahead of time in quarterly installments. I forget how I payed, but according to the paperwork that accompanied the bill, you can pay by check, money order, or CC.

You can sign up for automatic payment via a checking account; although, getting the form was a hassle. I just signed up for auto payments, and the first auto payment has't happened yet, so I can't tell you how well it works.
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:28 PM   #12
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how is the premium paid? Will they accept CC? If CC OK, do they deduct each month at the same time?
Sheez, even that simple question took much toooooooooo long to research. What a mess. Anyway, on page 71 of the Medicare and You - 2009 version it says:

What Are the Ways to Pay Your Medicare Drug Plan Premium?
You have choices in the way you pay your Medicare drug plan premium. Depending on your plan and your situation, you may be able to pay your Medicare drug plan premium in one of four ways:

Deducted1. from your checking or savings account.
Charged2. to a credit or debit card.
Billed3. to you each month directly by the plan. (Some plans bill in advance for coverage the next month.)
Deducted from your Social Security payment. 4. Contact your plan (not Social Security) to ask for this payment option. With this option, your first deductions usually take 2 months to start, and 2 months of premiums will likely be collected at one time.

For more information about your Medicare drug plan premium or ways to pay for it, contact your plan.
Use the following resources to get more information about Medicare prescription drug coverage:
Contact the plans you are interested in.
Visit
Prescription Drug Coverage to get general information, view publications, and find plans in your area.
Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say, "Drug
■Coverage." TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

(Yech! But no longer have time to format.)
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:40 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mickeyd View Post
I'm about 10 months away from medicare application time, but a question just arose in my mind

Q: As I am not receiving my SS until age 66, and medicare premium can not be deducted from the check, how is the premium paid? Will they accept CC? If CC OK, do they deduct each month at the same time?
They will bill you quarterly, and CC or Check is fine. First bill may be for as much as 4 months - to get you on the quarterly cycle (theirs). They will send you a paper bill each quarter. Direct debit. The payment is sent to Medicare (Medicare Premium Collection Center, PO Box 7930355, St. Louis, MO 63179-0355 - Phone Number is 1-800-633-4227. If you want to sign up for ACH from your checking or savings account you can call them at the foregoing phone number. Information is from my latest bill 9/29/08.
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Old 03-06-2009, 07:23 PM   #14
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Got my Medicare card and got my bill for the first quarter - actually for 4 months. Sent the check on time.

Then decided to apply for Social Security rather than wait till I'm 66. Oops! I had no choice - they will deduct my Medicare premiums from my checks, but the lady assured me that they will refund the premiums I've already paid.

So my first check comes in for my monthly benefit for February, and the explanation says it is for February benefit with premium deducted, less next month's premium. But in actuality the amount is for February with premium added less next month's premium.

Then today I get another check in an odd amount - roughly 2-1/4 times the monthly premium.

So (finally) my question is - should I call Social Security and ask them to explain what's going on? Or should I just sit back and wait and let them adjust the amounts?
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Old 03-06-2009, 08:20 PM   #15
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Got my Medicare card and got my bill for the first quarter - actually for 4 months. Sent the check on time.

Then decided to apply for Social Security rather than wait till I'm 66. Oops! I had no choice - they will deduct my Medicare premiums from my checks, but the lady assured me that they will refund the premiums I've already paid.

So my first check comes in for my monthly benefit for February, and the explanation says it is for February benefit with premium deducted, less next month's premium. But in actuality the amount is for February with premium added less next month's premium.

Then today I get another check in an odd amount - roughly 2-1/4 times the monthly premium.

So (finally) my question is - should I call Social Security and ask them to explain what's going on? Or should I just sit back and wait and let them adjust the amounts?
I think the answer really depends on what you think. As I understand your description, Medicare owes you about 0.75 x monthly premium or around $70. How much hassle are you willing to put up to get your $70? I live 3 blocks from a bus stop that, after a 20 minute ride, drops me off directly in front of my local SS office. I don't have anything else to do, so I would go to my local SS office and camp out until I got a satisfactory answer. If you want to be sure that you get your money, give them a call.
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Old 03-06-2009, 10:22 PM   #16
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In any event, I am now remembering just how complicated and confusing Medicare is. I would even venture that the Income Tax maze is easier to navigate... will get back to you next month on that.
Great ..... And immediately, this old tune popped into my head:

I hope I die before I get old!

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Old 03-07-2009, 04:49 AM   #17
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I would forget it as they are probably right. Benefits are paid a "month late" but MC Premiums are from the 1st of the month in which your reach 65 no matter what day it is (i.e., Birth month Feb, Birth day 28 = you pay MC Premiums for the full month of Feb and, of course, you are "covered" by MC for the entire month of Feb).

BTW I would suggest that you take advantage of the "MC initial examination" which is preventative in nature but a bit more extensive that usual "routine" examinations. Consult your "big book" you should have received on MC Benefits for 2009.
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:26 PM   #18
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Perhaps there is help on the way. (Hold your breath)

Proposal to Restructure and Improve Counseling and Education for Medicare Consumers
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:23 PM   #19
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My mom is receiving early survivor social security benefits (widow) since she turned sixty. I've been trying to find out if she qualifies for early Medicare because I thought I read she would qualify after receiving SS benefits for 24 months which will happen in 5 months. I have called the state and all the listed numbers to Medicare and I cant get anywhere with these people. Tomorrow I'm going to try the local SS office to see if they know.
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:26 PM   #20
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No she will be eligible at age 65. They (MC) will send her a notice about 90 days ahead of time (it will be a "you get it, if you do not opt out" notice). You may be able to find your information here: http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/...hp?p_faqid=400
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