Video: Making Medicare Decisions at Age 65
Bonnie Roberts-Burke: …going to one with a private patio, so you see how we’re gonna go in this main entrance…
Kevin Soden: If there’s one thing Bonnie Roberts-Burke is a whiz at, it’s selling real estate.
Roberts-Burke: ...nice open kitchen, with a range hood…
Soden: Bonnie never dreamed she’d be a successful real estate agent. In fact, 16 years ago, she was happily working as a teacher at George Washington University when her department was unexpectedly closed.
Roberts-Burke: After I picked myself off the floor, I feel like I had a mini nervous breakdown, and I thought, “Oh, what am I going to do with my life?”
Soden: She took a class in real estate so she could learn how to buy a house. It wasn’t long before she realized selling houses was right up her alley.
Roberts-Burke: Real estate is short-term adult problem-solving, not terribly different from teaching, only I get to work with adults. And they’re constantly changing. And I have new, wonderful people coming into my life all the time.
Soden: Something else is coming into her life soon.
You’re approaching the age of Medicare.
Roberts-Burke: I am, within months.
Soden: Hard to believe?
Roberts-Burke: Hard to believe.
Soden: Selling prime real estate in Washington, DC, is something Bonnie has mastered. But deciding on which Medicare plan to get? Well, that’s a different story.
Roberts-Burke: Come on in. Let me show you some of the papers I’ve been collecting. You won’t believe it. I mean, stacks! How many inches is this? Unbelievable!
Soden: How big is that!
Roberts-Burke: And I think that, really, you just want to scream when you look at all this. I mean, it’s like…
Soden: Confusing for you?
Roberts-Burke: Confusing, overwhelming. I mean, am I really supposed to read all this?
I want to be a collaborator in my health. I’m very health-conscious, I’m very diet-conscious, I take very good care of myself.
Soden: So she finds herself looking through mountains of material, trying to figure out which Medicare plan would be the best for her.
Roberts-Burke: You have choices like: Do I do Medicare Advantage? Do I do a Medigap supplemental program? Which is going to be best for me? Who is going to be able to answer these questions for me? Is there anyone that I can go to that’s going to be able to give me the information that I need to make the best informed decisions?
Soden: Bonnie has no plans to slow down, and no plans to retire anytime soon. But her decision on Medicare can’t wait.
Roberts-Burke: I have to make this decision. I’m Medicare-age—does that mean I have to act like a grown up? I guess so—and it’s very emotional, and it’s very confusing, and it feels overwhelming. So the emotional part, on top of the fact that there are so many options and it’s so confusing, have me feeling challenged.
Deborah Norville: I love this woman because she speaks for everyone who is going through this—inches and inches of materials, Kevin, that she was looking at.
Soden: It was overwhelming and she was confused and she was frustrated, but, you know, she’s a take-charge lady, as you saw.
Norville: She is. OK, Amy, she’s a healthy woman, she looks great, she takes care of herself, she is a take-charge woman. Does she need more than just the Medicare A and B? Are there supplemental plans she should be looking at?
Amy Larrick: Generally, yes. Generally, a person gets their Medicare, they get their A and B, and then they need to make a choice on how they want to get, kind of, the rest of their Medicare coverage. So you can have A and B and you can add on a Medicare supplement policy, a Medigap, that goes onto A and B, and then you can add on a Medicare prescription drug coverage onto that. So, kind of like, you put all the pieces together and you have your A, your B, your Medigap and your Part D plan.
Or she could choose—if she wants to, it’s all based on her choice—she could sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. And a Medicare Advantage plan is where you get all your Medicare benefits, all those four pieces, all wrapped together into one plan.
Norville: And is there an advantage to the Medicare Advantage plan because it is one-stop shopping?
Larrick: You know, it kind of depends on the person. Some people like that kind of situation, they like to have managed care. Other people would rather not. Other people like to be in original Medicare, they like to know that they can go to any doctor that’ll take new Medicare patients, they don’t have to worry about a network. So it really just all depends on the person.
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