2. Medicare Basics.
(Whether or not receiving benefits from or
subsidized by HP/HPInc or HPE.)
Advice and reference info from
(Updated Feb 6, 2021.)
Questions or comments to:
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" 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."
Members found this
20-minute video from investment company T. Rowe Price to be very
Informed Medicare Choices" Publicly available (no account
needed.) Originally made in 2018; slides updated 12/2019. Member
comment: "Very tightly edited -- there is
little excess verbiage. If you don't follow something that's
said, it might be something you should learn more about."
information from the official source.
Many Medicare websites that carry authoritative-sounding
information and appear to be operated by impartial,
non-profit, or official sources are actually cleverly-disguised sales pitches.
Much information on Medicare on websites or in the media is
inadvertently oversimplified, out of date, or distorted due
to condensation or paraphrasing.
1. Go to the source -- the official "Medicare & You" booklet and
the official Medicare site. They are very
(Note that official-looking "medicare
or <dot> org sites that comes up in Google searches
are operated by
clever insurance sales agencies -- not by the government.)
Go through the "Medicare & You"
booklet sections in
1: Signing up for Medicare
2: Find out if Medicare covers your test, item, or service
3: Original Medicare
4: Medicare Advantage Plans & other options
5: Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)
6: Medicare drug coverage (Part D)
7: Get help paying your health & drug costs
There are several key tables in the
- Page 6 through 8 explain Original
Medicare (+ Medigap + Drug) vs Medicare Advantage plans.
- Page 21 explains how your other
insurance works with Medicare.
- Page 72 decodes the Supplemental
(Medigap) plans -- A through N.
You can download the "Medicare &
You" booklet from the
official Medicare.gov site.
Even if you have a paper copy, much
easier to use if you download the current copy and use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific
words or phrases. (To search for a
word or phrase in a pdf file, press Ctrl and F together on a PC
-- or Command and F on a Mac.) The pdf file is very well done --terms,
phrases, and issues are hotlinked to sections in the booklet or
to other articles on the site.
Note that if you don't sign up for
each of the various elements of Medicare when you are first
eligible, you generally have to pay a late enrollment penalty
for years. (Covered throughout the "Medicare and You" booklet.)
2. Very helpful articles from the official
- Retiree insurance. "If
you're retired and have Medicare and group health plan (retiree)
coverage from a former employer... "5 things to know about
- Employer coverage (if still
employed.) Find out what you need to do if you have employer
coverage and you're turning 65, or are over 65, or are under 65
and have a disability.
- What is the cryptic "Notice of
Creditable Coverage" letter?
3. Check the official Medicare advice and
sites for your state.
- State Health Insurance
Assistance Programs. State-specific SHIP websites with
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.shiptacenter.org
- Medicare Savings Programs.
If you have limited income and resources, you can get help
from your state paying some or all of your Medicare
premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.
- State Insurance Departments.
Information about Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans
sold in the state.
Links on the official Medicare site to other helpful contacts:
4. 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
3. Advantage vs. Original Medicare