The first major mistake is reading endless company mailers and thinking that you need to digest and understand that Stack of Stuff.
Does this scene look familiar?
Many shoppers intuitively but mistakenly think something like this: “Well, I’m in the market for a Medicare plan, so I might as well learn about it by going through this Stack of Stuff. Maybe I’ll make some calls to Brand X’s and Brand Y’s 800 number.”
Those Americans that are approaching their 65th birthday are invariably on everyone’s mailing list, and they are being honored, or maybe inundated, with a flood of brochures from various insurance companies. These brochures, of course, all pertain to some aspect of Medicare related products. These can include Medicare supplements, Medicare advantage plans, and Part D prescription plans; or seminar invitations for the same.
Additionally, there may be other pieces from agents that send out blanket mailers, usually a card with a business reply address. If you are a member of an association or fraternal organization, you may receive mailings from their affinity partners. These are insurance companies that offer their members a Medicare supplement at a group rate. Lastly, some of the chain pharmacies distribute pieces pertaining to Part D Prescription plans (PDP’s).
Most importantly, you are receiving communications from The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, or CMS for short. CMS sends you their 140 page publication titled Medicare and You.
If you are already drawing Social Security, the Social Security Administration (SSA) automatically signs you up for Medicare by issuing your Medicare card. It usually arrives about three months before the first of the month in which you turn 65. It arrives in a 6 x 9” envelope with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the return address area. Here is a sample envelope and card:
Your receipt of your Medicare card means that you are automatically signed up for both Medicare Part A and Part B. They both are usually effective on the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first of the month, then your Medicare effective date is usually one month earlier.
As the brochures flow into your mailbox like a massive lava flow, do you want or need to take the time to go through that stuff? Does it help you, or does it actually leave you more confused? Here’s a collection from another household.
Remember, there is nothing out there that suggests that you need to go through those stacks. The mistake is simply thinking that you need do so. Making this first mistake then opens the door for the second mistake.