April 1 Deadline To Sign Up For Age 65 M.D. Aid

February 1, 1968

A number of older people in the Carroll County area will be getting letters this week, reminding them that they have only until April 1 to sign up for the voluntary doctor bill insurance under medicare.

Over nine out of ten of those 65 and over are already signed up for the supplementary doctor bill insurance, W. E. Dunn, Social security Branch Manager, said. They do not need to take any action.

Robert M. Ball, Commissioner of Social Security, is sending letters to those who are signed up for only the hospital insurance. His letter tells them that they have only about 2 1/2 months more in which to enroll in the supplementary program that covers doctor bills and a wide variety of other medical expenses in and out of the hospital.

Since the medicare program started only 18 months ago, the commissioner notes in his letter, the doctor bill insurance part of the program has helped pay over 28 million medical bills, totaling almost $1.3 billion.

Practically everyone over 65 is eligible for the voluntary doctor bill insurance under medicare, Dunn pointed out, whether or not they have ever worked under social security, and whether retired or still working. Almost 18 million older people — 92 percent of all those 65 and over — are signed up for the supplementary program.

About 1.6 million persons missed out on their first chance to enroll. The Social Security Administration has current addresses for 1.1 million of them and these are the persons who will be receiving the letter from Commissioner Ball this week.

Mr. Dunn urged older persons in Carroll County who are not signed up for the doctor bill in insurance under medicare to get in touch with the social security office if they do not receive a letter from Commissioner Ball within a week or so.

In his letter the Social Security Commissioner lists eight reasons that older people without the supplementary doctor blil insurance need to consider. He also encloses a leaflet explaining the medical insurance benefits and an enrollment card to be sent back showing whether or not the person wants the protection.

As reasons for signing up now, the Commissioner cites:

That the $4 premium rate represents an excellent buy because it represents only half the cost of the protection. The Government pays the other half.

It may not be possible to obtain the basic coverage any other way. For the most part, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and the commercial insurance companies have rewritten their policies for people 65 and over to supplement medicare.

The 1967 changes in the law make it easier to collect medical insurance benefits.

There are a number of improvements in medical insurance benefits, for example, the payment of the full reasonable charges for X-ray or laboratory services furnished to a bed-patient in a hospital and coverage of physical therapy services at home or elsewhere.

The increases of 13 percent in social security benefits, recently enacted by Congress will in most cases be more than enough to cover a social security beneficiary’s half of the premium — and to increase is monthly check.

Beginning in April, covered outpatient hospital benefits will be paid only under the medical insurance part of medicare. To have outpatient hospital coverage, therefore, the older person must be signed up for the medical insurance program.

The protection will cost more later on. The premium is 10 percent higher for each year that has passed since the older person’s first opportunity to enroll.

People over 65 and still not signed up for the supplementary medical insurance by April 1, cannot get the protection until July 1, 1969. A delay of more than 3 years after the person’s first opportunity to enroll means that he will not be able to get the protection at all.

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