Figuring Out Medicare Choices

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by Barbara Nevins Taylor

Mary Purcell was 66 and retired for a year. Her husband Butch’s insurance covered their health care costs as it had for more than forty-five years. But recently, 67-year-old Butch retired and their health insurance ended. Mary began to shop for Medicare insurance, and that’s when the fun started. “I consider us fairly intelligent people. This was a nightmare,” she told us recently. The Purcells’ nightmare is shared by many of us who try to decide which Medicare plan we should take.

The Medicare website offers a dizzying array of choices, and the insurers competing for our business send us equally confusing information about their plans, which differ slightly depending upon the state you live in. Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker says, “It can be intimidating and scary. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a call from a stupid person. People are engaged. They are intelligent. But sometimes it can be very confusing and complicated.

Mary was stumped by the way the plans are described. She says, “They had these plans identified by ABCD&F. What does that mean? What insurance company is that? As a consumer I was used to brand names.” She’s right. The letter system is bewildering.

So are the Medicare plans that we’re asked to join. Should you choose Should you choose a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplemental plan?

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