In September, when his doctor tried to get preapproval for a treatment, we were told my husband was uninsured! We questioned how that could be, because we had been told it was automatic. They said that only Part A hospitalization is automatic.
We immediately went to the Social Security office and signed him up for Parts A and B, but because it was now September, and five days after his birthday on Aug. 30, a penalty was imposed. Coverage for Part B would not begin until November, and no claims would be entertained for the period between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31!
I think there are probably a lot of people who are unaware of this punitive policy by the Medicare folks. We had assumed, wrongly, that since you can choose when to opt into Social Security and payments are adjusted accordingly, the same would be true of Medicare. We get a letter from Social Security every year telling what the benefits are and the options. We are surprised they do not do the same for Medicare, especially since a penalty is involved.
I hope you will spread the word so others don't get caught like we did. – D.T., Prescott, Ariz.
A.: The points you make here are pertinent. You have to make decisions in terms of Medicare to be perfectly covered. It has been well established that you are required to pay for some extra coverage. As you point out, you should get nervous when you're told that something is automatic and you need do nothing.
You have now alerted a great many people to the problem, and hopefully they will learn from you as I have.