The Medicare Advantage Trap

As I approach retirement, I have spent an enormous time studying Medicare. We are the only nation on earth with such a complicated system, and even if you think you are smart there a lot of mistakes to be made.

And the biggest of all would be choosing Medicare Advantage!

If you are around my age, you are probably hounded by Medicare salesman all selling the same snake oil – Medicare Advantage.

It promises to be so much better than traditional medicare. Its free or cheap. Many plans pay you to sign up with extra benefits like a grocery allowance, gym membership, dental, etc.

Its simple – just like good old corporate insurance. You won’t have to spend months studying like I did with traditional Medicare.

There are just a few things the salesman don’t tell you.

First, and its a big one, when you signup, you can never go back! That is right. You waive your right to ever signup for traditional medicare in most states. Its true you do get a 1 year ability to do just that, but that time passes quickly and the year you turn 65 is probably just about as healthy as you are going to get from now on.

While leads me to the second problem: Co-pays can be enormous once you actually get a big disease, especially if it requires extensive treatment. And that is when most people start looking to go back to regular Medicare and discover they can’t.

Third, networks are typically narrow and restrictive. And you can’t use your insurance out of state (unless its a bonafide emergency) and your insurance company will be in charge of your treatment from now on – not you.

We don’t buy health insurance to pay for aspirin and band aids. We buy it in case on of us gets “the big one” – that major disease that is expensive and may have a lifetime of treatments. And may require us to travel around the country for very specialized treatments.

So it will most definitely be traditional medicare for us. Nothing is really free, and I’d rather shell out the money and get real insurance I can use virtually anywhere in America. And with Parts A, B, and D, and a medicare supplemental plan, and the new Biden legislation aimed at capping drug costs, although we will pay a little more our health care costs will be predictable and capped, no matter how sick my wife or I ever become.

If you are considering Medicare Advantage, just wait. You can always purchase it later at any time with no penalty, but once you do get locked into Medicare advantage you truly are stuck.

Just another pitfall to avoid.

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