We took my sister-in-law out for dinner last night to celebrate her 65th birthday. She has serious mental handicaps and has had a rough time for many years affording even the most basic necessities of daily living. Reaching eligibility for Medicare is an important step. We hope access to affordable health care will improve her life in retirement.
My husband and I live too far away from his sister to be much help with the ordinary problems she encounters, but we try to be available to assist when she faces overwhelming challenges like those associated with signing up for Medicare.
Medicare has been advertising for several years about how easy it is to fill out the paperwork and begin receiving benefits, but it doesn't say much about the ease of establishing eligibility for both Medicare and Medicaid -- dual eligibility as it is known in government-ese. Navigating that path is no walk in the park, especially for people like my sister-in-law who are most likely to require these dual benefits.
My husband decided we needed to fly down after his sister mentioned that an insurance agent was helping her get health care. We questioned her, and she said she had purchased cancer insurance. Cancer insurance! A woman who can't afford the basics has no use for narrow specialty insurance, and the person who sold it to her undoubtedly took advantage of her gullibility. It took us two days to cancel it and get her money back.
Now we're using a terrific website, BenefitsCheckUp.org, sponsored by the National Council on Aging, to help her figure out how to qualify for retirement planning programs to which she is entitled at no charge, including assistance paying Medicare parts B and D as well as the deductibles associated with them. We also discovered that she's likely to qualify for some help repairing her mobile home.
Anyone who lives on a tight budget or knows someone who does should visit this website and see what kind of help is available. We think that what we're learning there is a huge blessing.