Navigating the Medicare jungle

Cindy ArpOur Town Leaders, Powell

Recently, a friend who specializes in Medicare insurance, related a nightmare story of predator Medicare sales.

An individual who had been disabled for six years and received both Medicare and Medicaid was sold a Medigap (supplement) policy for $200 a month. She paid this out of her $400 a month income. Due to the woman’s low income and disabilities, the Medicare and Medicaid coverage she was already receiving allowed her 100% free coverage.

Heiskell resident Cindy Arp in the woods.

The unscrupulous agent sold her expensive coverage she did not need. Having faced the complicated and bewildering choices offered when one is eligible for Medicare, I asked my friend to fill me in on the details.

I received a handy guidance chart: Medicare and Supplements It is worth a read. Also, if you or someone you know has a monthly income of $1,400 or below, one qualifies for TennCare, also known as Medigap.

Funded by a combination of federal and state money, TennCare will take care of doctor and hospital visits. For those qualifying, other needs such as medical, dental or vision can be met with a no-cost Advantage plan that provides $4,000 of dental care, $100 to $150 monthly credit for food, and coverage for glasses, hearing aids, gym membership, etc.

Armed with information, the next step is choosing a reliable agent.

Look for an agent who represents all plans and all available companies. While all agents must be licensed, agents who also represent Advantage plans must past yearly exams to stay on top of changes and new information. They are closely monitored by Medicare.

When you have an appointment with an agent, take a list of your medications and your medical providers. A reliable agent will guide you to a policy that meets all your needs at the lowest price. If you would like to explore Medicare more, log on to

For those who don’t own a computer, or for those who would appreciate help with computer usage, local libraries have several computers with librarians who will be happy to assist you.

Cindy Arp is a retired teacher/librarian who skipped a hike to research this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *