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How to Decode Medicare Mumbo Jumbo

Updated on February 17, 2014

Oh, the Tangled Web of Medicare Terminology

The language used to describe the structure of Medicare is overwhelming.

It is true that (or defines the terminology. Unfortunately, definitions fail to help understand the complexities of this powerful entitlement.

Case in Point

For example, if you have medical insurance through an employer or on your own before age 65, you likely pay one premium or your employer handles payment.

Under Medicare, depending on your circumstances, you could be paying three premiums for the following:

  • Medicare Part B (doctors fees).
  • Medicare supplemental plan (to cover what Medicare Part A and B do not).
  • Medicare Part D (prescriptions).

Even if I thoroughly defined all the terms used in the previous paragraph, you might still be befuddled.


At first, I was hoping that I somehow wouldn't ever have to deal with the program. But my mom needed help picking drug prescription plans and I got involved.

Now, I am approaching the age of 65 and will need to apply for what I've paid into for many years. How do I even start understanding the mumbo jumbo and get my questions answered?

Finding a Solution to the Medicare Mumbo Jumbo

I wonder how the government succeeds in making a simple entitlement so complex. Seriously, supply me with one-stop medical insurance - hospital, dental, prescriptions, doctors, nursing care, equipment, and tests. Stop with all the choices. That's what complicates the issues.

Help Me - Please!

So, I went looking for help.

The answers were nowhere and everywhere. Sources like these supplied information -, the optometrist who just started Medicare, the relative who recently applied, and the local insurance companies who CANNOT write simple promotional literature.

I had more information than I needed but none of it helped - not really.

AARP to the rescue. Whatever you may think of this association, they came to the rescue with a book entitled Medicare For Dummies. The author, Patricia Barry, an AARP senior editor, says that "People are totally baffled by Medicare."

More about this book in the next section.

Be Honest!

Do You Find Medicare Terminology Confusing?

See results

Hate the Dummies Titles

But in this case, I am a dummy and I admit it.

Let the decoding begin . . .

Day 1

From the moment I opened the Medicare For Dummies book (and I did order the paperback version so I could write in it) I knew I was home.

I jumped right into "when you are eligible" and "how to apply." In the first 5 minutes the book paid for itself.

In my case, I need to go down to the local Social Security office and apply. I could apply online or on the phone, but then I would need to send original documents like a marriage and birth certificate through the mail. That ain't happening.

Now I know what documents I need. Note that you may need other stuff depending on your unique circumstances.

Continuing to Traditional Medicare

Day 2

On Day 2 reading the dummy book, the dummy found out the difference between traditional Medicare and the Medicare Advantage plans. The book tables the differences and points out why you need to be careful which one you pick. Again, this is an individual choice based on your circumstances. YOU need to pick which is best for you - traditional or Advantage.

Also on Day 2 I found out why prescription plans are not all the same. It depends on what drugs you are taking, where you live, and how much you want to spend. Cudos the the lucky peeps who don't need to take drugs.

I will continue to review this book to complete my plan for applying for medicare and for buying additional insurance.

Obviously, I am strongly recommending Medicare for Dummies. Buy it now or struggle for a very L-O-N-G time!

Medicare for Dummies Author Speaks

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