I thoroughly enjoy mentoring young professionals. When I do, I emphasize the power of networking and suggest they identify approaches for staying in touch with fabulous people they meet along the way. This newsletter, Healthassist News, is an example of that. I send it to friends, family, and professional colleagues I have met throughout my career, and it has been incredibly valuable to me both personally and professionally. (I tease my oldest grandson, who admits he always opens it but doesn’t always read it!)
This month, I’m suggesting you read an additional newsletter to mine, one that was written by a colleague that I met through networking. Ironically, I was introduced to her by the consultant, Michael Katz, who helps me write this newsletter. A great example of the power of networking!!
Michelle Morris is a Certified Financial Planner and an Enrolled Agent licensed with the IRS, so I was intrigued by her newsletter this month which encouraged individuals to check their Social Security statements. What many people don’t know is that you can access these statements online via a portal called My Social Security.
Long time readers know that I have repeatedly encouraged you to enroll in all the Patient Portals that are relevant to your healthcare. These provide a means of both accessing important data and efficiently communicating with your physicians.
Well, there are two other portals that I encourage you to enroll in as well. My Social Security, which Michelle Morris suggested, and My Medicare. Both of these can be extremely helpful to you as you prepare to enroll in Medicare.
My Social Security
When you enroll in Medicare, you enroll via The United States Social Security Administration. The specific processes you embark on differ depending on your circumstances. Typical scenarios include the following:
- You are turning 65 and retiring.
- You are turning 65, plan to continue to work, but you work for an employer with fewer than 20 employees.
- You are beyond the age of 65, never enrolled in Medicare because you remained working for an employer with more than 20 employees and had health insurance through your employer. And now you plan to retire.
Enrollment can be completed in a number of ways (online, telephone, fax, or snail mail), but however you get it done, having a My Social Security account makes everything easier. It allows you to:
- Enroll in Medicare A and B at the same time
- Enroll in just Medicare part B if you continued to work and had health insurance through your employer
- Monitor the administrative processing of your account as enrollment is taking place
- See and download the letters snail-mailed to you from Social Security long before they arrive in your mailbox.
There are two significant benefits to all of this:
#1. If your enrollment is not processed within a reasonable time (14 business days), it may indicate a snag. The portal lets you keep an eye on what’s going on, and you can call your local Social Security office to troubleshoot any issues that have arisen. Speed is critical, since being fully enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B must be achieved before enrollments in any other Medicare products can occur.
#2. If your enrollment goes smoothly, you can embark on your additional enrollments and have everything in place, long before your target date for retirement and your full transition to Medicare.
Once you are fully enrolled in Medicare and have a Medicare ID number (also known as a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) and your effective dates, you can enroll in the My Medicare portal. As with most portals, this one helps you uncover important information and complete tasks quickly. For example, you can:
- See details of your enrollment in Medicare Parts A and B and your effective dates
- Check enrollment (now and in the past) in other products, such as a Medicare Medigap/Supplement Plan, a Medicare Advantage Plan, and a Medicare part D Prescription Drug Plan
- See what your Part B premium and your Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts (IRMAA) are, if you have an IRMAA for Part B and D
- Pay your premiums online or set up an auto pay function (Medicare Easy Pay)
- Review your Medicare claims and match them up with explanation of benefits documents you receive in the mail from other insurance companies
- Download a replacement Medicare card
Like I said, I really, really like portals!
All of these, whether patient portals that give you direct connections to your physicians and related services, or the two portals described above, provide more information, convenience, and speed in completing actions as needed.
Overall, the feeling of control over healthcare and insurance systems’ administrative processes and communication is fundamental to what we teach. Please take full advantage of the electronic tools at your disposal. I promise, you will benefit!