65-Year-Old Doctor Explains How To Sign Up For Medicare

Open Enrollment Ends Friday

| A few tips on how to cut through thicket of Medicare to enroll

By Robert Weisman, Boston Globe – Dr. Marsha Lavoie, a family medicine specialist at Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge, Massachusetts knows more about Medicare than most people because she routinely bills the federal health insurance program on behalf of her older and disabled patients.

But when it came time to sign up for the program herself this year, Lavoie, 65, faced the same concerns and uncertainties as anyone else navigating the maze of Medicare options, regulations, supplemental plans, and potential landmines.

“It’s time-consuming trying to sort through it,’’ Lavoie said. “You’ve got to look at coverage, premium, network, drugs, how much it’s going to cost and what the
restrictions are. There’s so many different plans, and they all have their own rules and regulations.’’

With roughly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, according to the Pew Research Center, the Medicare enrollment odyssey has become a generational rite of passage. Some welcome it as a godsend, enabling them to retire or pursue new ventures without fretting about health insurance. Others dread confronting the
program’s myriad complexities.

And the decisions don’t end with your initial enrollment. Medicare has annual open enrollment periods each fall, including one ending this Friday, in which beneficiaries can make changes to some of their coverage.

For those soon to be eligible for Medicare, the issues to grapple with are as individual and varied as they are unavoidable.

“Everyone’s situation is different,’’ said Carole Malone, assistant secretary of elder affairs in Massachusetts, which has about 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries. “Their
health is different, the medicines they take are different, their marital status is different. Some are still covered by their husband’s or wife’s health insurance.’’

Lavoie, for example, lives across the border in Connecticut with her husband, and many of the Medicare Advantage plans she could buy there — to enhance basic Medicare — wouldn’t cover their doctors in Massachusetts. Read more. 

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