(Whether or not receiving benefits from or
subsidized by HP or HPE.)
Advice and reference info from
(Updated Nov 6, 2021.)
Website operated by volunteers. Not officially endorsed or supported. Comments:
Medicare works differently! You
have lots of work to do.
Practical advice from HPAA members.
HPAA members advise that
get started three months before your Medicare start date (which
start of your birth month, or the previous month if born on the
1. First, set up your online "My
Social Security" account -- or gain access to the forgotten
account you set up in the past. You will be asked questions
based on your Equifax credit file. If this process fails
-- for example if you don't currently have both a mortgage and a
car loan -- Social Security will send a temporary password to
either the postal address or email address they have on file for
you. If you have a credit freeze or fraud alert at Equifax, you
will have to temporarily lift it.
Create a Social Security Account
2. Download -- or read online -- the
& You 2022" booklet. Don't wait for the printed copy in the mail,
which may show up two months after you need it.
3. Sign up for Medicare A and/or B
using your online Social Security account.
4. Then you will be able to add your
specific Medicare insurance plan(s) -- Supplement/Medigap and/or
Part D, or Advantage -- via your insurance provider.
Getting started with Medicare.
Here's the official Medicare
The AARP also has a step-by-step
procedure -- ""Medicare Made Easy"
[AARP membership not required.]
...and a "Medicare Question and Answer Tool."
information from the official source.
Much information about the details of Medicare provided by
websites or in the media is oversimplified or out of date --
or influenced by the fact that insurance companies very much
want to sell Advantage plans instead of Supplemental
Many health insurance websites carry authoritative-sounding
information -- and appear to be operated by impartial,
non-profit, or official sources -- but are actually operated
by marketing companies collecting leads for high-pressure
insurance sales outfits. (Including the official-looking
"medicare -dot- com" and
-dot- org sites.)
The questionable websites have phone numbers with wording
like "Speak with a licensed insurance agent" and "Helping
millions of Americans since 1994."
The official Medicare site is
It is thorough and very well done.
1. First, check the "Medicare & You 2022" booklet.
Even if you have a paper copy, much easier to use "Medicare
& You" if you download the current file and use Adobe
Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases.
and F together on a PC -- or Command and F on a Mac.)
Download the booklet here:
There are several key tables in the booklet:
- Page 5 through 7 explain Original
Medicare (+ Medigap + Drug) vs Medicare Advantage plans.
- Page 21 explains how your other
insurance works with Medicare.
- Page 76 has a table that decodes the Supplemental
(Medigap) plans -- A through N.
2. Very helpful articles from the official
Medicare site on topics we have discussed on the HPAA
- Retiree insurance. "If
you're retired and have Medicare and group health plan (retiree)
coverage from a former employer... "4 things to know about
- How Medicare coordinates with
other coverage. COBRA. Coverage based on current employment
or current employment of spouse. Workers' compensation. Veteran.
TRICARE. And more.
- What is the cryptic "Notice of
Creditable Coverage" letter?
3. If you don't find the answer to your question in the
booklet, use your browser's "search within the site" feature
to look up specific topics on the medicare.gov site.
Copy-and-paste this example into your browser, then modify
the search terms to suit.
[ guaranteed issue site:https://www.medicare.gov ]
If you search with that example, the official article on
Guaranteed Issue Rights comes right up.
4. Check the official Medicare advice and
sites for your state. State Health Insurance
Assistance Program (SHIP) websites have
information about local, personalized counseling and
assistance to people with Medicare and their families. SHIPs
can help you with things like: Your Medicare questions,
including your benefits, coverage, premiums, deductibles, and
coinsurance. Complaints and appeals. Joining or leaving a
Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), any other Medicare
health plan, or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Highly
recommended by HPAA members. https://www.shiphelp.org/
5. Health insurance agents. You may not qualify for a
company health insurance plan -- or, even if you do, have low
years-of-service such that they should consider non-company
alternatives. An experienced independent insurance agent
licensed to sell health insurance in your state can help you
sort through the complexity -- and adds nothing to the cost of
any plan you purchase from them.
If you have found an especially
helpful article on the Medicare.gov site, please pass the
Advantage vs. Original Medicare