Congratulations on your retirement! How exciting to be at this stage in your life.

The first step is to enroll into Medicare Part A & B beginning the first of the month you will no longer have his employee health insurance. Because you are over 65 you have a Special Enrollment Period to get your Medicare Part A & B started. There are two forms you and your husband must complete, CMS 40B and CMS-L564. The CMS 40B is completed by you as individuals and the CMS L564 is completed by your husband’s employer for you both. Once these forms are completed you send all four pieces of paper to the local Social Security Administration via fax or mail.

These steps are completed the three months prior to retirement. The next step is to begin researching your Medicare coverage options.

When deciding on insurance from your husband’s employer, you obviously both had the same coverage. When researching Medicare coverage options, you and your husband can make very different choices.

There is the option of Medicare Part A & B with the additional Medicare Supplement Plans and a Part D- Prescription Drug Plan. Medicare Supplement Plans come in 12 different levels and are labeled by letters. As an example; Plan K, or Plan N, or Plan F. These letters indicate different amounts of coverage with different deductibles and co-pays. Each of these letters are sold by Medicare Supplement Insurance Companies (10 companies).

The Part D Prescription Drug Plans come in 19 different options in New York State. There are many different possible combinations of coverage for both you and your husband!

An alternative option includes Medicare Part A & B with the addition of a Medicare Advantage Plan. There are 49 different Medicare Advantage Plans in Chautauqua County. There are 52 different Medicare Advantage Plans in Cattaraugus County. These Medicare Advantage Plans all stand in front of your Medicare Part A & B when it comes to covering your medical costs.

Medicare Advantage Plans come in different varieties, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO’s). There are also Private Fee For Service (PFFS’) plans individuals rarely enroll into this type of offering.

Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Companies have different networks of providers. They all have different drug formularies (medications they cover) and different lists of preferred pharmacies they work with. So in evaluating the Medicare Advantage Plan options there are a lot of variables to consider.

I explained all that to illustrate just how many choices you have and how many variables to consider in making that choice. For that reason we often see the individuals and couples making different decisions selecting their insurance coverage once they have Medicare Part A & B.

You want to be sure to evaluate your insurance needs based on the doctors you see, how often you see them, what hospitals do you go to, what pharmacy that you use, and what medications you take. The answers to these questions probably differ between you and your spouse. Therefore the insurance product you choose to go along with your Medicare Part A & B should also be different.

You have some wonderful resources at your disposal to figure this out. The Medicare and You handbook is very useful in learning about Medicare coverage. The website is also very useful with lots of resources and training to help you use the website effectively.

There are also Senior service agencies and insurance brokers that can help you through this decision making process.