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Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Dear Tom and Alan:

The big six-five is happening for me (to me?) in June.

I just got the letter from Medicare by way of the local Social Security office telling me my card with Medicare A and B is on its way.

I’ve also received the brochure, Medicare & You, in the mail. It’s the 2019 version from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and has a lot of info.

Do you know of an online service having to do with Medicare for questions not in the book?

Boomer

Alan: Wow, Boomer, you got me digging into my past to find my user name and password for MyMedicare.gov.

It used to be that your Medicare number was just your Social Security number with a letter on the end.

Now it’s a combination of letters and numbers (still 11 of them) that are really hard to memorize.

Anyway, all you have to do is go to the website, create an account, and you’re in business!

You can look up recent claims you may have had, print out forms (even your own Medicare card), pay your Medicare premium (usually $135.50 per month for Part B), and keep track of your doctors, medications and family history.

Tom: One website we use a lot in the office is Medicare.gov. You don’t have to log in but you can access a ton of information.

For example, just by putting in a ZIP code, you can find doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis facilities, rehab centers, hospice, medical equipment suppliers and even home health services.

Most often, we use it to find drug plans (Medicare Part D).

Simply specifying the ZIP code, name, dosage and frequency of the medication(s), we come up with any number of plans and how the drugs are categorized and how much they cost.

If it’s a company that we’re not certified with, the customer can sign up right on the website.

Again, the important part about drug plans is that open enrollment occurs each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. So if you absolutely hate the plan, you can easily change.

Alan: So…it’s MyMedicare.gov if you want a personal source of information and just plain Medicare.gov if you want to be anonymous.

However, this takes us back to our column of April 4. We pointed out that within the first 12 months of getting Medicare Part B, we are all entitled to a one-time physical. After that, it is an annual “wellness exam.”

So, imagine my surprise when, after logging onto FollowMyHealth.com, I was informed that my doctor’s medical group, St. Joseph Health, does not “support” the wellness exam. Being definitely past the guaranteed physical, my choices were consultation, follow-up office visit, office visit established, post-hospital visit, well baby/child visit (nope), or, other.

Does this mean that I have to make up a condition and get all the other stuff done? Or just pay retail for an annual physical and all the related labs?

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Submit questions to schrette@gmail.com or alancash@gmail.com.

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