The Medicare 2020 season is over, and it is time to reflect on what happened and what did not happen. First, allow me to say that having a season to buy Medicare is only helpful for the government. The public has no say in it, and they should since they paid for it their entire life. Part of your social security tax goes to Medicare to pay for Part A. When you go onto Medicare you pay for Part B separately from Part A which everyone believes is free. If it is free, why are we paying 1.45% of our social security to fund Part A?
Specifically, I am questioning the idea of limiting citizens from making choices about their coverage but more importantly, about the timing of that coverage. Today, you have the three months before, the month of, and three months after your 65th birthday to go onto Medicare. The exception is if you are working for a company with more than 20 employees you can delay the Part B effective date until you retire or change jobs and work for a company with less than 20 employees. The 20-employee threshold is there because if the company has less than 20 employees, Medicare pays first and you must take Parts A & B. You also have a window called the annual election period from October 15th through December 7th where you can make as many changes as you want with the last choice being the one you keep. Then you have the open enrollment period from January 1st through March 31st to make one more change and you are then locked into that choice for the remainder of the year. If I make a wrong decision and do use the open enrollment period to make a change and that proves to be a bad choice, why am I stuck with that choice for the balance of the year? The makes no sense to have to keep something that is not working because the government says so?
If more than 20 employees, then Medicare pays second after your group coverage, so you only need Part A in those circumstances. Why can’t the 65-year-old decide if they want to go onto Medicare or keeping their own coverage and not go onto Medicare? That should be our choice, not the governments.
My concern is the citizens should have the choice when to take Medicare without penalties or lifetime fines. If I work for a company or am self-employed why can’t I decide to keep my own coverage and not have to take Medicare? The cost today (2020) is $144.60 for Part B. In 2021 that amount goes to $148.50.
Then I must make a choice whether to just keep Original Medicare, with a stand-alone drug plan, or add a supplement with a drug plan or get a Medicare Advantage plan. Sometimes, based on your income, these choices cost more than keeping your own plan. Medicare also costs the government or really the American public a lot of money. These should be our choices, not the governments. They are supposed to work for us, but we all know that is no longer the case. This country is changing and not for the better. I am referring to choices or demands made on us by the government, not the political ramifications.
The choices should be ours and made by us and not by the government. For this blogger, Medicare was a better choice but for others, it may not be, and that decision should be ours, not the governments.
There was a time when you could choose to make changes anytime during the year. The government claims it was too much work for them to handle, so limiting the times you could change makes for a lot of extra work during that time but after that time there is nothing for them to do. Does not make any sense to me, except making it easier for the government to handle. They need to remember they work for us, not the other way around.
I will close this blog by stating I believe the choices about Medicare should be ours, not the government because I am a citizen, not a subject.
Len Baren, broker
The Barend Agency Inc.