Solve the Medicare Puzzle for Your Circumstances

Believe it or not, Medicare has become almost as complex as the tax laws of the IRS. The right to health insurance really confuses people from all walks of life.

In fact, the editor of Senior Patricia Barry’s American Association of Retired Persons said, “Humans are completely baffled by Medicare.” She should know as she researches and answers daily questions about Medicare.

What-if responses

A simple inquiry about entitlement can have multiple answers. For example, this sounds pretty straightforward – “Are you automatically notified when it’s time to apply?”

The answer – it all depends on your circumstances. Are you collecting Social Security benefits or have you been waiting for them? When you collect, you will be notified that you can apply for Medicare. Yes, Medicare and Social Security are linked but completely different claims!

The main point

Consider Medicare as a set of rules that you need to understand because they are unique. You have to adjust the rules to your own circumstances.

Knowledge of the rules is the key to solving the Medicare puzzle.

When you start solving a puzzle, you can sort the pieces by the type of the puzzle; Let’s say that you pick edge pieces and sort them by color. This is set up to simplify the solution.

The first step in solving the Medicare puzzle for you is understanding the terminology. Find a resource like that has described Medicare Part A, B, C and D and terms like Medicare Supplemental Plan and Advantage Plans. Then your resource should put the term in context using an example.

It is a great help that Medicare uses common terms such as co-payment or co-payment, PPO and HMO. As you begin to understand the terminology, you will automatically start asking questions based on your own situation. Write it down else you will most likely forget them.

About a year before most people are eligible for Medicare, insurance providers send out emails, leaflets and brochures claiming to demystify Medicare for you. In my experience, this literature seems to be helpful, but it can further confuse the problems by pointing you to a specific product. And if you have not thoroughly researched your own situation, you do not know if the advertised product is something you need.

For example, suppose you know that you do not need a Medicare supplement plan because you can use your spouse’s insurance in conjunction with Medicare. Then, supplementary plans for advertising with the literature are useless for you, at least at this time.

What about Medicaid? While Medicaid and Medicare are often mentioned together, these are separate programs. Medicaid is income-based, not age-dependent and is administered by the states. The rules of each state, who is entitled and what is covered, are different. If you believe that you can qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, it is imperative that you ensure you understand what is covered by each program and what it does not.

Both Social Security and Medicare can introduce a number of additional financial planning issues beyond the scope of this article.


Getting an additional plan that will serve as a backup for your medical care is important. This is because most medical care packages will often not take care of everything including services and supplies referred to by your doctor. Supplemental plans therefore serve to cushion you from the hefty financial blows in matters health and are provided by private insurance companies. The insurance covers will take care of the additional service and supply costs and by doing so; significantly reduce the amount of money you pay when you visit your physician.

Get an advantage plan for 2019 at

There are times when one’s medical condition compels treatment to be sought from overseas. Shouldering this kind of expenses that constitute both transportation costs, accommodation costs and medical costs can be very difficult for one person. Having a supplemental medical care will help reduce the overall expenses as the insurance cover will take care of the medical expenses which are the most expensive part of this situation.

Medigap plans serve as a support plan. Medigap achieves this by supplementing the user’s original medical care package. For one to qualify for Medigap services, it is mandatory that you be part of an existing original medical care plan and even after the supplemental protection, one has to continue with the original medical care membership because Medigap only serves as a advantagemeaning it cannot exist alone as a cover.

Medigap is a coverage that is only available for persons above the age of 65 years in most states.  Other medical conditions like disability, the last stage of renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. These ailments can disqualify one from being eligible for Medigap coverage.

It is important to note that Medigap coverage plan does not extend to one’s prescription as stated by the doctor. This therefore means that one may have to consider also signing up for a stand -alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Medigap as a coverage is only meant to advantagethe costs incurred in the original medical care.

It is important therefore that one conducts a good research to establish the extent to which a particular coverage will shelter you so that you do not subject to a situation blindly. Research should also be done to know which covers go hand in hand and the limitations they all have. The Medigap plan gives beneficiaries the option to also get policies from extensive sources like one’s employer and other insurers.

The Rising Popularity of Integrative Geriatric Medicine

The world of Integrative Medicine, sometimes referred to as “Alternative Medicine”, has been in practice around the world for thousands of years, but has only recently started gaining popularity in Western society. Encompassing nutrition, exercise, therapy, healing, and natural medicines, its holistic approach to health and wellness appeals to seniors in particular.

With the right provider also comes the right insurance.  Need help?

More and more doctors are starting to implement integrative approaches to medicine when it comes to their senior patients for a variety of reasons. As patients age and accumulate various age-related conditions, prescriptions for each condition begin to accumulate as well. This could cause adverse reactions for the patient from two or more drugs interacting with each other as new ones are introduced. To avoid this, doctors must fully understand all of the patient’s conditions and prescriptions, and spend a good amount of time finding the right drugs to introduce that won’t have harmful effects. Measures of alternative medicine could replace prescriptions drugs for certain conditions.


Even if not to replace prescriptions altogether, alternative medicine could be a good way to supplement for overall health in a patient. A common practice of integrative medicine is to understand the patient’s lifestyle in addition to their just their health profile. Perhaps they’re not getting enough walking in each day, or going outside enough for some good ‘ol vitamin D from sunlight. They could be eating nothing but fried and processed foods, or they’re experiencing an issue that’s causing them a lot of stress. These are all things that could cause health issues, but could also potentially be solved without the use of prescription drugs. Without a deep understanding of the patient’s overall lifestyle, a doctor may not know the underlying cause of an issue that may actually be very simple solve.


This kind of care is particularly important for seniors as our health becomes more fragile as we age. Any measure that can be taken to avoid overprescribing or potentially causing further complications should be considered. As our healthcare providers embrace the concept of integrative geriatric medicine further, more of them are willing to make recommendations for alternative methods of care and providers in those spaces. Other examples include acupuncture, herbal medicine, or nutritionists.


If you’re unsure about your insurance coverage, it’s a good idea to consider Medicare supplement plans to ensure the financial impact of utilizing these alternative care providers is minimal. Your regular doctor may have friends or colleagues they can refer you to, or you may even find that your doctor practices alternative medicine as well. Regardless, embrace your overall health and make sure you’re living a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Saving Money with Home Improvement

Each year thousands of dollars are wasted due to inefficiencies around the house. They may be too small to notice in any given day, but over time the costs add up. Follow these tips to keep your money in your pocket, where it belongs.

Saving money on insurance is important too.  Go to the following site for information on how:

Windows and insulation

Whether it’s your home’s heat during the winter, or the AC in the summer, most of your home’s energy goes straight out the window, literally. Thin glass panes or tiny gaps due to poor window construction leads to more energy being transferred outside the window. As you use more oil or electricity trying to maintain the temperature inside the house, those tiny issues are costing you more and more money. Switch to certified energy efficient windows to ensure the maximum amount of energy you’re generating stays in the house, keeping your costs as low as possible.


This goes hand in hand with the insulation in your walls and roof. Although it requires much more upfront work to insulate your house, if you’re not properly insulated the savings of switching to energy efficient windows won’t be nearly as much.

Lights and appliances

Much like your old windows, old appliances have a habit of wasting energy as well. Major appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners, washers and dryers, dishwashers, and water heaters all have efficient models that, while likely costing more up front, will save money on your utility bill over time. These appliances utilize the minimum amount of energy possible to complete the same tasks as their inefficient counterparts.


Light bulbs are an easy change to make. Like appliances, they’re also going to cost more upfront. However, these light bulbs will last far longer so you won’t be buying them nearly as often. If you’re prone to leaving the lights on in rooms you’re not actually in, or leaving them on while you’re away from the house entirely, this is a particularly important switch for you.

Change bad habits

Start taking extra care to be conscious of any energy-wasting habits you or your family members have around the house. Turn the lights off when you’re not in that room. Don’t leave the TV on if you’re not watching it or aren’t even home. Water is particularly easy to waste, so be sure not to leave the shower running for long periods of time before you get in it and don’t take extra long showers. And don’t leave the sink on while you’re brushing your teeth.


Think of it like your Medicare supplement plans. If you invest a little upfront for the long-term benefits, when you add it all up the money you could be saving is significant.



Health Insurance alternatives for those on Medicare are very confusing. For those enrolling in Medicare for the first time, the time-line for doing this is from three months before the month one turns age 65 till the end of the third month after the month one turns age 65. It is during this period of time that one wishing to sign up for a medicare supplement plan or an advantage plan may do so without concern for medical conditions. If one tries to enroll after this open enrollment window, you may be declined acceptance into a medicare supplement plan and may have to wait till the next annual open enrollment period for an Advantage or prescription plan, which is from November 15 to Dec. 31 of each year.


If looking at Medicare supplement Plans 2019, keep in mind there is no requirement to enroll in any Advantage, Medicare Supplement or Prescription plan.   Get assistance and help at, if one elects not to enroll in a prescription plan when eligible, and you do not have another credible prescription plan, you will have to pay a 1% penalty for each month that you wait to enroll in such a prescription plan in the future. The 1% penalty is figured on the cost of a base plan. Also be aware that the penalty is payable for the rest one’s life.


The following is important for those concerned about their access to affordable Health Insurance and the most appropriate health plan. If you elect to get an Advantage Plan instead of a supplement plan, you may not be able to change and go back to a supplement plan if you develop a medical condition. The only thing that will let you go to a supplement plan is if your Advantage plan is canceled or eliminated for some reason (other than something that was your fault) or if you move out of the plans service area for your current Advantage plan. This is very important to keep in mind as an Advantage plan may become more expensive and limit some of you health insurance options. It is my recommendation to go with a supplement plan instead of an Advantage plan if at all possible. Remember that supplement plans do not include Rx coverage.

For those that just don’t have the funds for a supplement plan, there are HMO plans available in most areas now that offer zero cost options.