My father turned 65 over the weekend and I helped him get the best present – Medicare. Why the best present?
- He is no longer dependent on an employer for health coverage. He is free to be entrepreneurial, work multiple jobs, volunteer, or pursue whatever passions he wants without worrying about medical coverage.
- He does not have to worry about provider networks. For the most part, he can go to any doctor, anywhere in the country.
- With Medicare Supplement F, he has about the closest thing to complete medical coverage that exists in the United States.
- To get this coverage, he did not have to read through volumes of fine print to pick the best plan. Because Medicare supplement plans are standardized throughout the country, all he had to do was pick the insurer that gave him the best price.
- He does not have to worry about bureaucratic processes to get medical bills paid. Almost every time he goes to the doctor, everything gets processed and paid for behind the scenes. And it usually gets paid correctly.
- If he is denied coverage, he has at least five levels of appeal.
- And if he appeals, the appeal will be heard by an independent reviewer – not the insurer itself. (Under health care reform, more people finally have this basic right.)
- He does not have to worry about an insurer dropping his coverage. Even if his supplemental plan stops coverage, he will have the opportunity to get coverage from another plan.
Notice I did not say that he saves money with Medicare. Doing the math, he is probably paying a little less for Medicare than his employer coverage. But cost was not the issue. He enrolled in Medicare because it is better insurance.
In the Medicare debate, people often assume that seniors do not want to change Medicare because it is affordable and subsidized. But I think cost is just one factor in the enthusiastic passion for Medicare. The main reason for the passion: Medicare works how insurance should work.
Indeed, I would also pay more for insurance if I could get Medicare. Too bad I am not 65.
Christopher W. Smith is an elder law attorney that specializes in aging and special needs issues. He can be found at http://www.smithelderlaw.com and on Twitter @ElderPlanning and is licensed to practice law in Michigan and Indiana.