I am on Medicare
By Thomas Morrone, CFP®, CPA
Okay, when did those 65 years pass? Medicare is for old people, right? Does that mean I am old? Many people before me have asked those same questions as well as many people in the future will do the same. It is the normal progression in life. After a lifetime of contributing to Medicare from my payroll check, as well as decades of my working lifetime, since 1993, I was self-employed, so I also contributed the employer match. Even to this day, and for the next year or two, I will be still contributing to the entitlement program. Though, effective February 1, 2023, the Federal Government will be paying the lion’s share of my health insurance costs. For those that have their health insurance premiums paid for by their employer, some take that benefit for granted, or better said, do not fully appreciate what the true out of pocket costs are for those benefits. Large group plans usually offered quality coverage to the participants.
Let us digress for a moment. As a self-employed individual, health insurance premiums, have always been one of my largest, if not the largest, annual expense related to the business. What was additionally frustrating, is the quality of the coverage was usually sub-par with high deductibles and large copays for ridiculously high premiums. You had to have insurance in the event of catastrophic events so whatever insurance you had was better than none. The annual, out of pocket costs to cover copays and deductibles were very steep but there was no choice. Each annual renewal, the insurance carriers would roll out their renewal rates and there seemed to be huge increases each year, so it made sense to review the renewal policy and shop around a bit to make sure you were receiving the best value for the money. The health insurance marketplace is also very confusing when trying to shop and compare so you have an “apples to apples’ comparison. HMO, PPO, gate keeper, referrals, specialists, co-pays, deductibles, hospitals, emergency, medical services, in-network, out of network, in state, out of state, preventative care, prescriptions, generic or name brand and so on and so on. It was an exhausting exercise, but an absolutely, necessary process.
Well, now that entire quagmire is behind me. The year 2023 will be an interesting one to track health insurance premiums and out of pocket costs for co-pays and deductibles. Based on projections, the savings for me will be considerable and welcome. Cathy has a couple of years yet before she is Medicare eligible. (I married a much younger woman.) Once she goes on Medicare, we will experience another huge change in our out-of-pocket costs as it relates to health insurance and medical costs. I do not want to rush that time as it will quickly pass all on its own. Before Cathy is eligible for Medicare benefits, I will reach my full retirement age in the eyes of the Social Security Administration. That will then mean it will be time to turn on the Social Security faucet and receive money from the Government for a change. That will be another milestone that is a lifetime in the making.
Getting older into itself is a benefit. Life experiences, grandchildren, travel, fun with family and friends and sometimes the sweetness of doing nothing, whatever that might be. Looking back with hindsight, I can honestly say that I did not think about Medicare as one of those benefits, until now.
So yes, I am a 65-year-old white male that will be receiving entitlements from the US Government. I earned them, and I will take them with a smile. Life is Good!
Until the Next Tom’s Take…….