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Questions to Ask: The Transition to Medicare from Other Health Insurance

Questions to Ask: The Transition to Medicare from Other Health Insurance

If you are becoming eligible for Medicare during the next 12 months, it's not too early to start doing some homework. It's time to find out about the transition to Medicare from any and all existing health insurance you have. Here are some things you'll need to explore:

  • Should I sign up for Medicare Part A only?
  • Should I sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B?
  • If I get Medicare Part A and B from the Original Medicare administered by the federal program, do a need to buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as a Medigap policy ?
  • Should I join Medicare Advantage Plan to receive both my Medicare Part A and Part B benefits from a private company?
  • What should I do about prescription drug coverage and Medicare Part D ?

The answers to these questions will depend on each individual and his or her unique circumstances. So, where should you start? Get on the phone with your current insurance company.

If you are self-employed or have an individual health insurance policy for other reasons, call the customer service department of your health insurance company. Ask what will happen with your health insurance policy when you become eligible for Medicare and what choices might make sense for you - as well as any family members covered on your individual insurance plan.

If you are retired and have a retiree health plan through a former employer or union, making phone calls is especially important. The rules vary greatly from one health plan to another. Retiree health plans can be especially tricky because each plan can be quite customized. The Employee Benefits Administrator or other human resources department professionals can be a valuable source of information. A few examples of questions to ask are:

  • What happens if I sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B? Or, Medicare Part A only?
  • Which insurance would pay first - Medicare or the other health plan?
  • If I join a Medicare Advantage plan, will I be kicked off of my retiree health insurance plan?
  • If I join a Medicare plan, but change my mind later, can I get back on my retiree health insurance plan?
  • How will my choices affect my wife or children who are dependents on my retiree health plan?
  • Are the prescription drug benefits in my retiree plan as good, or better, than standard Medicare Part D plans?

If you are still employed or you are on COBRA, the Employee Benefits Administrator is also an important source of help and information. You will want to ask many of the same questions as those listed above. For people on COBRA, finding answers can be especially important because rules are different when you are on a group health plan, but not currently employed.

There are online resources to check out that may be helpful as you learn about options for a smooth transition to Medicare. For example:


Y0071_14_18407_U CMS Accepted 10/08/2013
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Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc., is an HMO with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. depends on contract renewal.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. is an LPPO plan and a PDP plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. depends on contract renewal.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc., and Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc., are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Anthem Insurance Companies Inc. (AICI) has contracted with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to offer Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) noted above or herein AICI is the state-licensed, risk-bearing entity offering these plans. AICI has retained the services of its related companies and authorized agents/brokers/producers to provide administrative services and/or to make the PDPs available in this region.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. and AICI are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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