Wellness in Retirement – Oh, the Joy!

Tom and I have been very mindful of wellness in retirement.  We have to be.  Our health insurance requires it.  We have to be whether we want to or not.

East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church has health insurance administered by Wespath, which is administered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.  I’m not sure why we have two levels of insurance and, yes, it is confusing.  I pay money to East Ohio Conference for my health insurance and then they send it on to Wespath, but the bills get paid by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.  My health insurance card that I show to all my doctors says Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

When Tom and I got back from Georgia in April, there was a package for us from East Ohio Conference.  Tom was in the 90 day window for enrolling in Medicare.  He turned 65 in June.  East Ohio requires that he enroll in Medicare, but they don’t give any instructions about how to do it.  After a lot of research, I found out that he needed to register for Medicare online.  So we went online.  But Tom wasn’t allowed to enroll in Medicare because he didn’t have enough quarters of work under Social Security.  As a teacher in Ohio, he was enrolled in the State Teachers’ Retirement System instead of Social Security.

He could have signed up for health insurance under STRS but he has always been covered under my insurance.  So he needed to sign up for Medicare under my Social Security number.  Which he could have done online if I was already drawing Social Security.  I have, however, decided to wait until my full retirement age, 66 years 10 months, before drawing Social Security.  Tom could sign up for Medicare under my record but not online.  He needed an appointment.

After being on the phone on hold with Social Security for almost two hours, we finally got someone on the line to give us an appointment to sign up for Medicare.  The earliest appointment (we called in April) was June 14, the day after his birthday.  And it was a phone appointment.  We were on hold all that time only to get a phone appointment for two months later!

On June 14, at the appointed time, the Social Security person called and got Tom signed up for Medicare.  We were relieved to have that step over, but East Ohio needed the Medicare number.  The woman on the phone told us that Social Security would send the information to Medicare and then Medicare would send us a card with the number in four to six weeks.  The card finally came on July 14 and Tom and I filled out the paperwork and sent it to East Ohio Conference the same day.

Tom with his Medicare card

We are relieved to have that hurdle down.  The whole process seemed a lot harder than it needed to be.  We still haven’t gotten a bill from Medicare.  They told us not to worry about that.  Just pay the bill when it comes and sign up for automatic billing from then on.  I’m sure the government will get its money one way or another.

In the meantime, I got a letter from Wespath that I need to complete a Health Check and Blueprint for Wellness in order to keep my deductible as low as possible.  I did this a year ago and it didn’t take long.  This year was another story.  The Health Check is part of Virgin Pulse.  Last year I signed in, completed the Health Check, and then did nothing else with it all year.

This year I tried to sign in, but kept getting the message “Your username or password do not match our records.”  Whenever I get that message, I try again, thinking I might have typed something in wrong.  After getting the same message again, I went to plan B, which is to reset my password.  I did this three times and still couldn’t log in.  I finally called Virgin Pulse and the help desk told me they changed everyone’s username to their email in the last year.  It would have been helpful to know that.  It was the username that was wrong, not the password.

I finally got logged in and completed the Health Check.  Then it was on to the Blueprint for Wellness that is through Quest Diagnostics.  They need the same numbers I entered into the Health Check, but they don’t trust me to fill them out.  My choices were to get the doctor to fill out their form, have new tests done at a Quest Diagnostics center, or do an “at-home” blood screening.  I can’t just send them my test results.  I requested an “at-home” test.  That’s four levels of care when there isn’t anything wrong with me.

The whole process has been very frustrating, confusing, and convoluted.  I’m glad Tom and I are in good health.  I don’t know how people who have serious health issues deal with the whole insurance aspect of it.  On my Health Check, they wanted to know how much stress I have.  I don’t have any stress until I have to fill out forms for the insurance!  The only thing endangering my health is trying to take care of my health!  Trying to wade through all the layers for wellness can be very confusing.

How about you?  How is your health?  Are you looking out for your wellness as you age?  Have you been frustrated by insurance or have you breezed through it all without any stress?

I’m a big fan of preventative health care.  I just wish dealing with insurance didn’t have to be so hard.