What is the right Medicare plan for traveling retirees?

September 12, 2018


I am retiring next May, and my wife and I are going to travel the United States in our new Winnebago. I am an insulin-dependent diabetic and will need easy access to a pharmacy while traveling, plus if I have an emergency I do want access to decent medical care anywhere in the United States. Please give me your thoughts on what Medicare option will be good for our situation.


Gerald from the Heights area

Well Gerald,

Planning your Medicare is an important part of planning your retirement since one wrong move can cost you thousands of your hard-earned retirement dollars.

Many new to Medicare miss a special window of opportunity when they first enroll in Medicare Part B. This unique time is called the Medigap/Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period and lasts for six months beginning the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and enrolled in Part B.

Gerald, if you enroll in this special 6-month window, being an insulin-dependent diabetic will not affect you enrolling in a Medicare Supplement and an insurance company cannot use underwriting to issue your Medicare Supplement.

Touring the United States may be another reason to choose a Medicare Supplement because there is not a network and if the health-care provider or facility is accepting Medicare, then you can receive your care there.

Also, you will want to take time when picking your Medicare Part D plan because you will want access to a nationwide pharmacy that is not only in your area.

Another option for both health-care and prescription drugs is a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan (MAPD) which may or may not offer the flexibility of easy access to health-care providers in various areas of the country due to that chosen plan’s specific MAPD referral process.

Below are a few of the differences between a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage Plan:

Medicare Supplement:

1. A Medicare Supplement works directly with “Original Medicare.”

2. You choose which doctor, hospital, home health agency, skilled nursing facility, etc. that accepts Medicare assignment for your health care.

3. There is a monthly premium that may increase each year.

4. You may enroll and will pay separately for a “Stand alone” Medicare Prescription drug (Part D) plan.

Medicare Advantage Plan:

1.To qualify for the MA plan:

a) You must be enrolled in both Medicare Parts A & B.

b) Live in the service area six months out of a year or change when you are out of the area.

c) Not have end-stage renal disease (kidney dialysis).

2. Verify with your doctors/hospitals to which MA plan’s network they accept.

3. You must use your Medicare Advantage insurance card, not your Medicare card.

4. A Medicare Advantage Plan must provide all your Part A and Part B benefits and some Medicare Advantage Plans have Part D prescription drug plans included.

5. With a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have different co-pays, co-insurances or deductibles to pay and have maximum out-of-pocket expenses to meet with low or $0 monthly premiums.

Gerald if you still have questions regarding your specific Medicare needs for you and your wife call the Toni Says® office at 832-519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com. Visit www.abbs4u.com and attend ABBS (American Baby Boomer Society) Medicare courses for more Medicare specific issues.

“Sugar Land’s Confused about Medicare/Long Term Care” Workshop - Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 6-8 p.m. at Sugar Creek Baptist Church’s Chapel, 13213 SW Freeway (next to Classic Chevrolet), Sugar Land, TX 77478. Please RSVP at 832-519-8664.

Toni King, author of the new Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced, offers a Toni Says® Medicare column readers discount available at www.tonisays.com.

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