Why is Signing Up for Medicare So Complicated?

I turn 65 in August, which means I’m enrolling in Medicare for the first time.

OMG, I had no idea how confusing it would be.

Even with several AARP “how to sign up for Medicare” webinars…even with a knowledgeable broker I’ve worked with for years…even with a healthcare-savvy, detail-oriented sister whose husband has been on Medicare for nearly two decades…even with the fact that I’ve written brochures about health insurance, including Medicare.

Does it really need to be so complicated?

First, there’s the timing of my “initial enrollment period,” which I wouldn’t have even known about if my broker hadn’t reached out to me.

Then there’s Original Medicare, which I think is also called traditional Medicare. Offered through the federal government and accepted by most doctors, it’s made up of Part A to cover hospital costs, and Part B to cover doctor visits and outpatient services.

There’s also Medicare Advantage, sometimes called Part C, which is an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare. If I understand correctly, it limits out-of-pocket expenses, while Original Medicare does not.

Which coverage is right for me depends on my health, my doctors, the insurance my doctors accept, where I live, where I travel and my financial situation. All things that are up in the air.

Oh, and don’t forget Part D for the drugs I’m likely to need in the years. And what about a Medigap policy which helps pay for out-of-pocket costs? Do I need one of them? If so, how much does it cost?

And of course there are enrollment deadlines. Miss them, and I’ll have to pay more.

I could go on and on. I imagine many of you reading this could as well. I also imagine some of you have good advice to offer. If so, please share.