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Transcript: Chat With AARP President Rob Romasco on Health Care Expenses

Missed the Nov. 18 live chat? Read the transcript

AARP: Hello and welcome to the chat! AARP President Rob Romasco will be taking your questions on how to plan for health care expenses during retirement.

We're pleased to have back with us today Rob Romasco, president of AARP. He is also a member of AARP's all-volunteer board.
Rob Romasco: Hello and welcome to today's live chat on health care costs in your retirement. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Thank you all for all the questions that are coming in. We'll try to get to as many as we can.
AARP: Thanks, Rob.

Rob Romasco: Let's get started!
AARP: If you aren’t including health care costs in your retirement planning, you might be in for a rude awakening. According to the latest retiree health care costs estimate calculated by Fidelity Benefits Consulting, a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $220,000 to cover medical expenses throughout retirement, and that doesn’t even include long-term care costs. How can AARP connect you with resources to help you plan for your health care expenses down the line? Let's go to the first question.

Comment from Carol: I turn 65 in March. Do I need to select the insurance I want during the sign-up period going on now? If not, when do I select the insurance I'll purchase?
Rob Romasco: If you are uninsured, you can enroll in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2014. Remember, if you want your coverage to start on Jan. 1, 2014, you should enroll in coverage through the marketplace by Dec. 15, 2013. There are several ways to enroll, by phone (800-318-2696), by mail, in person or online ( If you are receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65 in March, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A. If not, you will have to enroll in Medicare Part A. You will have to enroll in Medicare Part B, which is not automatic. You may enroll for both Medicare Part A and Part B three months before the month you turn 65 and three months after the month you turn 65. One important point to remember: If you decide not to enroll in Part B during this enrollment period, you may enroll next year during the general open enrollment period. However, your Part B premiums will be higher if you wait a year. Because the Health Insurance Marketplace is not for people with Medicare, you would not enroll though the Health Insurance Marketplace. You will enroll in Medicare through Social Security (800-772-1213). You want to make sure that you have continuous coverage so it is always a good idea to contact Social Security before you turn 65 to make sure you are enrolled in Medicare. You will also need to coordinate with your private health plan to make sure you are un-enrolled as to not have an overlap in coverage. For more resources and information about the health care law check out AARP's special website,, our easy-to-use online tool.
AARP: Thanks for that answer, Rob. Let's go to the next question.

Comment from Bill: My wife and I travel abroad frequently. We know that Medicare pays nothing if we need treatment when abroad. Is this true for Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans as well?

Rob Romasco: Bill, Medicare generally doesn’t cover health care while you travel outside of the U.S. If you have a supplemental program, some expenses may be covered. You may have to bring the receipts back and file them with your provider. Medicare does not cover foreign medical expenses.

Next page: We need to purchase insurance for the years prior to Medicare »

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