Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is on its way. I am not ready for Christmas. I still have the tablecloth on the dining room table from Thanksgiving, (yes, it does need a wash) and I finally got rid of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers that I forgot to freeze. I don’t have any decorations up yet and I haven’t gotten any Christmas presents either. Yipes! I better get moving!
I cooked 2 turkeys and a ham for Thanksgiving as we were hosting about 18 people…all friends with no close family nearby, just like us. We had a blast! Everybody brought something to share, either a side dish, beer and wine or a dessert. I also made a pumpkin pie. While my turkeys and dressing and potatoes were all delish, I impressed myself mostly with my decorative and yummy pie! Loads of spices and a bit of cream made the pie so good.
Note to self: I cooked for 2 days. Never again. Can we come to your house in Cuenca for Thanksgiving next year, Alta? I’ll make a pie.
Here in the states, I have been busy for the last couple of months working with my Medicare Advantage customers and their insurance decisions during the annual Medicare election period (for 2012) that ends today. In Texas, most Medicare Advantage (or part C) plans require no additional premium other than Medicare’s part B premium which is usually deducted from social security earnings. I’ve pondered the options for medical insurance (and particularly Medicare coverage) for those expats who are over 65 and eligible for Medicare. I haven’t found any blogs that have discussed whether expats are maintaining Medicare Part A & B coverage while they are residing in Ecuador, or choosing to disenroll from Part B.
I also wonder if those who are actually continuing to have Medicare Part B premiums deducted from SS wages know that if they don’t enroll in a Medicare Part D (Prescription drug plan) when initially eligible will pay a penalty at a later date when (if) they do choose to enroll when (if) they return stateside.
In addition, certain retirement plans obtained through employers often neglect to inform retirees that coverage is only supplemental to Medicare Parts A & B, and that if the retiree doesn’t continue Medicare Part B enrollment (and pay the monthly premium for Part B) that the retiree will have gaps in coverage. This type of retiree plan will only pay for what wouldn’t be paid by Medicare, even if you don’t have Medicare Part B. A client discovered this when retiring from a state employee plan; he complained to me that the wife’s doctor bills were outrageous, and why wasn’t his retiree plan paying for them? I asked if they had continued Part B coverage and if they were paying the premium. He said, no, we didn’t think we needed both Medicare Part B as well as the retiree plan. The outcome was that he re-enrolled himself and the wife back into Medicare Part B (they had to wait until an enrollment period came along after a few months) and they are now paying a penalty for not being enrolled (or continuously enrolled) when originally eligible.
I’m also pondering the options and viability of being able to purchase a Medicare Part C (Advantage) Plan (that includes the Part D-RX drug coverage) at age 65 (note: must be a resident of the service area of the plan when enrolling) and continuing Medicare Part B premium but having no extra premiums to pay. This would allow a person to have U.S.A. full coverage if the worst happens and if the need to return to the home state arises. Medicare Advantage plans require that the member live/reside in the service area, and medical coverage outside of the U.S.A. is not covered. However, I haven’t found an answer to my query whether it’s kosher to maintain said coverage while actually residing overseas and returning to the States at least once a year for an annual exam (which is usually covered at no cost under the plan). Note: a U.S. physical address is required to maintain a Medicare Advantage plan.
Here’s my thoughts: A person, age 65 or better, has full Medicare & Part B premiums which are paid by a deduction from Social Security wages. Said person enrolls in a Medicare Advantage plan with RX drug coverage for no extra premium. Completes the Medicare sanctioned annual exam before traveling. Travels to foreign country, and perhaps purchases some form of travel medical or evacuation insurance plan, for emergency purposes. Stays (resides) in foreign country, and will either pay for medical care in country as needed or use the travel medical plan.
Anybody out there reading this blog see a problem with or hiccups to my theory? Would love to hear from you. My thought is to have the best of both worlds, while shelling out minimum premium payments. After all, moving to Ecuador is supposed to be kind on the pocketbook.
Meanwhile, Alta has hosted many family members visiting Cuenca and has been busy helping new expats with their move into Alta’s condo building and nearby. Hubby & I are counting on the fact that Alta and her hubby will be such seasoned expats in Ecuador by the time we get to Cuenca (as they will have helped to smooth the transition for so many other expats) that we won’t be allowed to make any gringo mistakes. I hear they’ve been to many parties and fiestas and parades in Cuenca….I hope they think of me next time they are @ Bananas….