Monday, 16 November 2009
NaivetyBy Mage Bailey of Postcards
“Oh,” I mentioned to a friend, “I’ll be applying for Medicare soon.”
“If there’s anything I can do to help,” she emailed back, “Just let me know. It can be a little confusing.” She included a link to the Social Security site for my edification and enjoyment. Carefully saving the email, I thanked her. Thanked her for the second email too.
There wasn’t any great hurry, I thought. My husband lost his job in June, but his COBRA would continue until January. He was looking hard for a job, so I didn’t worry. There had been only a few interviews, and no job had appeared. Now it was November. I had two months to get medical insurance lined up.
One day, a rather intimidating folder arrived titled, “Medicare & You 2010. Unable to admit to myself that I was scared, I sat that brochure right next to my computer as if I were going to open it - as if I were going to do something about it.
I was forced to look at it every day. Eventually I set a date to open it on the day my husband was planning to find something cheaper than COBRA.
What excitement? I opened the brochure to find Parts? Part A, Part B - clear through to D. What’s all this? One stop shopping? Not at all. This was medicine by government. I must have been living in a dark hole somewhere not to know all this.
I shut the folder and opened the computer. I could do computers.
The link from my friend opened right up, and there I was applying for Medicare and feeling as if I knew what I was doing. Name, dates, addresses, Social Security number, all went right in. Insurance - COBRA. And there it came to a halt. The program would not let me go back or forward or any other thing to explain that COBRA was ending.
I panicked. I confess. My kind, sweet, thoughtful husband put up with me, he held my hand and kept me calm until I could phone Social Security a whole day later. By now the naivety was gone and my hackles were up.
“Oh yes, the program does that,” said the nice voice on the SS phone. Calmly. “Let’s see if you qualify,” she continued.
Barely. My Medicare would be based on when he was laid off. No end of December for me, the new date would be December 1. Two weeks. She’d send me three forms, and one was to be filled out by his old human resources department. I was to fill everything else out and immediately take myself to the nearest Social Security office - and wait on hard chairs all day just to expedite this. Yes, too, I had to have my Drug Plan in place when I went to apply.
I felt empowered enough today to spend four hours interviewing Drug Plans and Economy Advantage plans by phone. By early afternoon, I had learned a lot and had everything lined up. Despite my naivety.
By evening, I could laugh at myself again.
[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]