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Greetings, Nelbie00, and welcome. You wrote:

<<I will soon retire at 65 and begin to draw my social security. Because of my friends experiences with Medicare, I would like to purchase healthcare insurance thru my membership in a private organization.

Assuming I have the resources, can I do this?

If the need arises, may I enroll in medicare at a later date?

Has anyone out there adopted a similar strategy?>>

Medicare has two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A covers hospitalization and has no premium. You paid those premiums while working. Part B covers visits to the doctor and supplementary medical procedures not covered by Part A. You are automatically enrolled in Medicare when you apply for Social Security, but you may opt out of Part B is you ask. The premium for Part B is $45.50 per month in 2000, which covers about one-fourth of the costs to the government. Said another way, the government pays 3/4 of the cost of the services paid under Part B. If you turn it down at the time you apply for Social Security, then you will be assessed a 10% increase in cost for later enrollment for any 12-month period you could have enrolled, but didn't.

Can you find coverage for these services? Probably, at least for Part B. However, the cost would be prohibitive, will not be guaranteed to continue for life, and will escalate obscenely each and every year you hold it. All in all, IMHO it would be exceedingly (f)oolish (as opposed to Foolish) for you to decline this coverage despite its flaws. It is in the only safety net for medical care you have in your retired years.

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