Being Schooled in Medicare

If you are like me, your eyes glaze over when Medicare is mentioned in the news.  I know I should learn more about it.  I’m still pretty far away from using it myself, but planning for my future should include more than projecting my income and savings, it should include projecting my future expenses, shouldn’t it?  Besides, my parents use Medicare, and it would be a good idea to understand what the heck Part A, Part B and Part D have to do with medical costs and reimbursement. (And what exactly is a Single Payer Health Care Plan as opposed to Medicare Advantage?) 

A quick search turns up the alarming statistics that the typical senior household has $66,900 in savings, and the average man needs $124,000 to cover health care during retirement. (The average woman needs $152,000- not because we’re weaker, but because of that whole life expectancy thing.)  Those are startling statistics!

Recently, my out-of-state aunt fell and broke her hip and had to be transferred to a facility that could provide the skilled care needed to get her back on her feet, but, because she stayed only 2 and one-half days in the hospital, Medicare could not cover the cost of that two week nursing home stay.  Unfortunately, the family learned about the rule the hard way.

How can we make what seems to be an incredibly complex system easier to understand?  The Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), the Howard County Office on Aging and Howard County General Hospital are hosting a free two-part lecture on the Medicare system.  What to Expect From Medicare is the first seminar on September 17, and will address the benefits, costs and how the plan works.  On October 1, Medicare Isn’t Enough will focus on the gaps in Medicare and how to protect yourself from Medicare fraud.  Although the classes are free, you’ll need to register as space is limited.

If you can’t make the free seminars, be sure to check in with SHIP directly as they are a terrific resource and, for a little light reading, check out this book currently on the shelves at the Howard County Library: Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions: Get the Most Out of Your Retirement & Medical Benefits by J. L. Matthews. It was published in 2012 and is highly rated. 

After all, being wise is an essential part of being well!


Mary Catherine Cochran works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.



  1. Duane St.Clair

    Too bad the sessions hosted on Medicare are during the day. The sessions should also be offered in the evening so that people near retirement age could attend without having to take off work.

    • Thanks for your great feedback! I agree! This is the first time this class has been offered and it has filled up quickly so we know that a demand for this kind of information exists. I will forward your suggestions to the class organizers to see if they can offer an evening session of the same material!