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1. Medicare: Learn the basics.

(Whether or not receiving benefits from HP/HPInc or HPE)  

Advice and reference info from members. (Updated Oct 15 2020.)  Page updated often -- use browser refresh button to display latest version.

Questions or comments to: info@hpalumni.org

You have 31 days to change your health plan if you lose coverage from another employer or have a status change such as marriage or divorce -- or transition to Medicare.

These restrictions are not unique to HP -- or unique to health insurance. A fundamental principle of insurance is that everyone continuously pays into the pool when they are healthy. For example, that's why 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.

Outside HP, you have until December 7 to adjust your Medicare coverage for next year. This deadline may be different for coverage subsidized by HP. Medicare.gov source

If you have HP coverage and won't be able to resolve your Medicare situation by the company enrollment deadline -- for example, because you can't get an ARHE agent appointment in time, or you have an application pending for an individual Medicare plan through ARHE -- enroll in the best HP plan now and change later if necessary. There is a confirmation and mop-up cycle after the stated HP deadline. See Enrollment Guide (page 2)

1. Official Medicare site:

Bookmark and explore the Official Medicare site:  http://www.medicare.gov   (Note that official-looking "medicare <dot> com" site that comes up in Google searches is operated by a clever insurance sales agency -- not by the government.)

Study the excellent "Medicare and You" booklet. Three key tables in the most recent (2021) edition:

- Page 6 through 8 explain Original Medicare (+ Supplemental) 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 it from the official Medicare site. https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf

Even if you have a paper copy, it is very helpful to use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases in a pdf file. (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.)

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. AARP website.

Membership in AARP is not required to access these articles on the AARP website:

"Medicare Made Easy" Steps through the key questions you need to answer to select your coverage. Some of the issues they cover:

- Your health. Open to changing doctors, preexisting conditions, medications, change pharmacy.

- Your home. Travel around the country or abroad. Second home. Rural area.

- Your costs. Premiums, copays, coinsurance and deductibles; Medicaid or other assistance.

- Your coverage. Through job, retiree, military, COBRA, or spouse’s plan. Affordable Care Act individual marketplace.

https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-2020/what-is-medicare.html

"The Big Choice: Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage"

https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-2020/original-medicare-vs-advantage.html

AARP's "Medicare Question and Answer Tool." answers many questions:

https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-qa-tool/

3. T. Rowe Price video.

HPAA Finance Forum moderator Tom von Alten highly recommends investment firm T. Rowe Price's 20-minute Medicare video: "Making Informed Medicare Choices" Publicly available (no account needed.) The disclaimer dates it "as of November 2018." Web page dated January, 2020.

"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."

(Medicare is discussed on the HPAA Benefits Forum.)

4. Key articles from the official Medicare site:

- Retiree insurance. "If you're retired and have Medicare and group health plan (retiree) coverage from a former employer... "5 things to know about retiree coverage"
https://www.medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/retiree-insurance/retiree-insurance.html

- Employer coverage (if still employed.) "Even if you have coverage through a current or former employer, you still may need to make some important Medicare enrollment decisions. It’s important to understand how your current coverage works with Medicare before making any decisions." Three choices: "I have employer coverage and: I'm turning 65 or I'm over 65 or I'm under 65 and have a disability."
https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/how-do-i-get-parts-a-b/i-have-employer-coverage

- What is the cryptic "Notice of Creditable Coverage" letter? 
https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/mail-you-get-about-medicare/notice-of-creditable-coverage

5. Employee/retiree Medicare plans are different:

Note that employee and retiree Medicare plans are "group" plans that have been customized for the specific employer. They don't have to match the government specifications for Advantage or Supplemental plans -- making comparisons with individual, standard open-market Medicare plans difficult. You have to carefully analyze the features as they apply to your specific situation (for example medications or pre-existing conditions.)

 

Next step: 2. Traps and limitations


For more mutual help on this topic and many others, join the independent HP Alumni Association. If you were formerly a regular, direct employee of HP, HPInc, or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. Helping each other with life after HP. No charge, thanks to HPAA members.


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