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The many complications of Medicare

George Judson Oct 15, 2015
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Open enrollment for health insurance starts Thursday. So millions of people 65 and older are getting lots of ads in the mail for insurance that covers what Medicare doesn’t.

I got my first taste this year, as I approached 65. I was Medicare to-be. In just a few months, I received 40 mailings from insurers and brokers — plus Medicare’s own 152-page guide to Medicare.




Now, because of open enrollment, the mail’s coming again.

Here’s what I learned my first time around:

1) Medicare is not free.

2) Choosing among insurance plans that cover what Medicare doesn’t is complicated, and wrong decisions can cost a lot of money.

3) I am no dope, but I expect to be confused by this every October until I die.

The graphic below shows where my direct-mail solicitations came from — I have thrown away SO much mail from AARP since I turned 50.

I’ve learned one other thing. I still work, so my wife and I have insurance through my company. But when I retire… we’ll pay a consultant to guide us through Medicare. We don’t trust ourselves to get it right. And we’re no dopes.

(Janet Nguyen/Marketplace) 


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