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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/we-dont-really-have-a-choice-unlike-our-30323644.aspx

Subject:  Re: Medicare, anyone? Date:  10/16/2012  7:35 PM
Author:  TMFPMarti Number:  17955 of 19224

We don't really have a choice, unlike our politicians who get coverage for life outside of Medicare. It's past time to make those slugs live with what they have put on the rest of us.

Lest we forget what old people had before "those slugs" burdened them with Medicare, can you say "nothing"? They weren't exactly an attractive market for our friends the market solvers.

I yield to no one in my disdain for Congress, but even they're entitled to be judged against the truth, not this urban myth of gold plated heath care that has taken on a life of its own.

Like all Americans who draw a paycheck (or have earnings from self-employment), members of Congress pay the Medicare tax. Payment of this tax over a period of time entitles one to "premium-free" Medicare Part A at age 65. (You can see your own Part A status on the SS earnings estimate.) If you are covered by Part A it is your primary insuror for the things it covers regardless of what other insurance you have.

Sitting members of Congress, along with active Federal civilian employees and most civilian retirees (including me) are eligible to get insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. It's a great program, without a doubt, especially the ability to remain in the same group with the same premiums upon retirement if you meet the requirements. (I don't know what the requirements are for retired members of Congress in terms of length of service.)

Things get murkier when retired FEHB participants turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare. Like anyone else age 65 they can participate in Medicare Part B, and many do. I turn 65 the end of next year, so I really need to hunker down during this year's November open season and see what options I have. When I delved into this a little bit last year I didn't see anything in the FEHB plans that looked like Medigap. My own coverage, which costs roughly the same this year as the standard Medicare B premium, would pay all of my Medicare Parts A and B deductibles and co-pays, so by doubling my monthly premium I would fix my out-of-pocket expenses to that amount plus prescription co-pays. I have the option of declining Part B, but there's also a lot of mumbo-jumbo in the plan literature about "coordination" whether you have Part B or not that I need to decipher.

Lots of number crunching ahead. Oh joy.

Phil
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