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Monday, 16 November 2009


By 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.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


OMG! my husband and I have just been through exactly the same thing.Except you forgot to mention the hours you waited on the phone. It was a nightmare!

If you are old enough for Medicare they feel you have nothing to do so waiting is a field trip of sorts!
Always great to know others in the same lines.

Hi Mage,

Welcome to the club...You have done all the hard part and so now you will have smooth sailing on the good ship Medicare.

Honestly, Mage,it really does work well.

Here's hoping you only have to show that card once in a while for a check up to see why you are feeling so great!

Weslcome to Medicare..I had such an easy time, I thought I had done it wrong..like having babies, sometimes best not to listen "horror" stories..my doctor had advised me to look into AARP's supplementals, I did and they took care on the phone of both sup and Part D..good karma on your hubby's job search..
Mary of Bklyn..

When I applied for Medicare 19 years ago it was a walk in the park. None of the hassle you had to go through. This further illustrates what has happened to our broken medical system.

Where, oh where are the sensible legislators who will fight for the single payer system that will include our medications, eye and hearing care and dental work? One form would fit all.

Amen, Darlene. Have you all written and emailed your congresspeople? And don't you all hate that endless paperwork these days? I qualified for extra help from the government for a few years and it all required confusing paperwork, then I became better off financially and they started taking the percs away--but I still had to do the paperwork--TO GIVE THEM BACK! THE NERVE!

Thank you all so much. I'll post back later when I get home from the SS office.

Return Remarks: So thinking we would be there all day, we bought day passes for the trolley, we picked up passport and SS card at the Bank, and I almost forgot my book. We found the office, I found the bathroom, and I didn't even get one chapter of Harry Potter 2 done before I was called. I had my application and my husbands paperwork in hand. Poof! She didn't even ask for ID. In, Out, Done....so we went out to lunch on the bay to celebrate...

Congratulations! Like Nancy said, you've done the hard part, it should be smooth sailing from here.Too bad Medicare can't be for all ages from birth to death.

Mage Dear:

Laughing at yourself is a talent that is worthy of perfection.



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