(For more on the national implications of health care reform on United States Medicare, and information on other Medicare issues, see theabcsofmedicare blog here.)
As is common this time of year, the Boston Globe is full of bad Medicare advice for Massachusetts seniors.Stick with the federal government both because it provides the most accurate information and you have a pretty good case for a do-over in the rare case where it is wrong and you make a decision based on that wrong information.
Here are five ways the advice currently up on the left-wing newspaper's web site -- in the form of a guest editorial by a a financial planner, probably an advertiser -- is very wrong:
- This not the time for "Open enrollment for Medicare and Medicare Supplemental policies" as the Globe claims (link not provided for obvious reason). It is just the opposite. October 15-December 7 is so-called open enrollment only for Parts C and D of Medicare. The next open enrollment period for Medicare itself is in January-March of next year1 (effective July 2015). Open enrollment for Medicare supplemental policies in Massachusetts is continuous and guaranteed (effective the first of the next month).
- It is not true that "The traditional Medigap policy provides comprehensive coverage." Medigap only covers the gaps in what Original Medicare Parts A and B do not fully cover and A and B are not comprehensive (no annual physical, vision, hearing, dental, etc.). A also has lifetime and per-incident limits on many medical services (but some Medigap policies have riders for international travel)
- Medigap does not allow "you to go to any doctor you choose." The doctor must accept assignment from Medicare or participate in Medicare at a higher rate (but Medigap won't pay that higher rate for the latter; it won't pay more than it what it would pay a doctor that accepts assignment)
- It is crazy for the Boston Globe to say "Medicare Advantage plans... work much like a HMO." Most are HMOs. We all know what HMOs are. No convoluted explanation and wording is required. But a lot of Medicare Advantage plans are also PPOs and this is a major issue if you do not understand in-network vs out of network issues with PPOs.
- Be very cautious of the Massachusetts-state-government supported web sites and groups offering open enrollment advice. They slant the advice they give to the Democratic-Party platform, which calls for the elimintion of Parts C and D of Medicare. Stick with the federal medicare.gov website (image above)
Not that I expect the Globe to be any different from the rest of the mainstream media in furthering the Democratic Party's War on Seniors.
1Of course, anyone with a special situation -- the most typical being turning 65 -- can join Medicare before then.