Covid, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Social-Distancing, Quarantine, Pandemic…..
Who would have known that as we turned the page in January to the land of 2020 that these words could possibly (1) be known to us and (2) part of our “new” daily world.
Since March, we’ve added several new words to our everyday vocabulary. Stress, anxiety, furlough, early retirement, bored, depression, Cobra coverage, etc.
When things began in earnest in March, as we spoke on the phone to many of our Medicare beneficiaries, they would ask “and how is your business during “This”?” They meant “how in the world does your office work during a pandemic?”
That was the easy part. Because we’ve always been a virtual agency, we didn’t miss a beat. Remember, the word “virtual” prior to March, 2020 sounded pretty insane, pretty “you can’t do that with people over age 65”, pretty out there to most but, what is a bit comical, is that “virtual” is one of the new hip words of late…. Virtual has become a bit the norm.
We joke with financial advisor partners that “every grandparent in the land has been on Zoom in the past few months, keep the streak going and host a Medicare webinar”. Think about it, thank our lucky stars that we actually HAD technology during a modern age pandemic.
That’s the upside to things.
Retirement Dangers Ahead
Here’s the downside.
Layoffs, early retirements that weren’t so planned, furloughs that bring enormous uncertainty, the stress of being IN the workplace and the stress of being OUT of the workplace, health concerns, visiting family concerns… the list can go on.
In early 2020, we, as an agency, had zero clue what we were in for. We were plodding along helping people transition to the Medicare system. Helping them to assess “do you need Medicare?”, helping them learn how much it costs each month, and helping them pick the one of two products that they need to learn about. Then? Wrapping up their Medicare insurance package with our agency.
Bam. March 2020, Covid-19 style.
In our workplace, we help those that are new to the Medicare system get there in the proper fashion with as little bumps along the way as we can muster.
We’re busy. We have our hands full with 12,000 of you turning 65 each day in our world. And, every one of you 12,000 need to make SOME sort of decision about Medicare. So, we’re here for that.
What we didn’t plan for was the rest of the Covid-19 induced retirements (as we so fondly refer to them as).
We’ve been busy with people that thought they’d retire in early 2021. But this thought took over — “#$(@*& it – I’m out now, I need help getting to Medicare”
We’ve heard from the “It’s not worth the risk to me or my spouse to go back to my employment….. sooooo, I’m going to retire now – help”.
And, sadly (because they are the ones that weren’t able to control the situation) were the “I was let go and I need to retire now and figure out Medicare.”
All of those situations combined get us to here. Handling Medicare TRANSITIONS the proper way.
When all of those persons described were in the process of separating from an employer, they dealt with human resources. They were given documents about Cobra health insurance coverage for themselves and any dependents that they might have. We saw, and continue to see, many problems related to Cobra coverage and the interaction with Medicare coverage.
Cobra coverage can be just fine for you and your family. BUT that is IF you (or any dependent) is ELIGIBLE for Medicare. We emphasize “eligible” because people will tell us that they “just stayed with Cobra because we know our plan is pretty good”. Well, if you took the plan because it was pretty good, and you happen to be age 65 and over (remember – that means ELIGIBLE for Medicare. Regardless if you did or didn’t get it, you’re eligible) Cobra has different rules related to Medicare.
It comes down to who is now your primary insurance “provider”. It’s a whole bunch to type out so I’m going to shortcut that and lead you to our Cobra video on YouTube to really understand what we’re talking about. Save yourself some stress and dollars by understanding the implications. Also, read our recent contribution to an AARP article about this very problem.
In addition to having to decide whether or not to enroll into the Cobra coverage, the suddenly retiring person now had to figure out how to get Medicare set up. And, set up quickly in many cases. New blogs from Medicare.gov appeared like this one. The local Social Security offices were and are closed to foot traffic. “But, how can I sign up for my coverage when I can’t walk into the office to do so?”
New methods to the madness had to be, and were, created rather quickly.
But, we made it.
Here’s the good news.
We still wrap up our process with the person on the phone saying “WOW, that wasn’t so bad”. Or “thanks for making this so easy for us”.
We’ve added new tools such as our 2020 Guidebook and our list to our Top YouTube clips to make your life easier. Use them and share with friends, family, colleagues and those just as confused as you are.
We’re here to guide you through and teach you what to do and when. We’re here for phone meetings, screen shares, virtual sessions with our many partners like DFCU here in Detroit, Michigan. See their website for Medicare sessions, enroll into the Medicare one and you can join our sessions as we help them to help you with Medicare. So, instead of teaching Medicare class live in Livonia, Michigan? We can take Livonia, Kalamazoo, East Lansing, etc. and wrap them into one giant classroom online.
And, it works. We all can do it.
Medicare in addition to our Covid-19 style world can certainly feel like loads and loads of stress. We totally get that. But, it’s our job to take away the Medicare process stress.
And, it works. We do it each and every day. Schedule on our calendar if and when you need us!
Joanne Giardini-Russell is a Medicare Nerd & the owner of Giardini Medicare, helping people throughout Metro Detroit and the country transition to Medicare successfully. Contact Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 248-871-7756.