People Look at Me Weird When I Tell Them I am on Medicare

I am only 40 years old, and I am on Medicare. Yes, you heard that right, MediCARE, not MediCAID. There is a (little know, I guess) provision in Medicare rules that allow someone with ESRD and receiving dialysis to receive Medicare if they have paid into it. As such, whenever I go to pick up my medications, and I tell the clerks that I am on Medicare, they always look at me weird.

When I was filing my taxes this year, my tax accountant asked me for proof that I had health insurance all year, and she didn’t believe me when I told her I had Medicare. “Do you mean Medicaid?” I’m not an idiot, lady. Needless to say, I will not be using her next year.

For those of you who are not sure why people are giving me weird looks and questioning my sanity when I tell them I am on Medicare, it is because the vast majority of people who received Medicare are over the age of 65. There is also a provision for disabled individuals who have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for two years or more to receive Medicare insurance as well. But I am still working, not receiving SSDI, and I am 40 years old, so people assume I must be lying until I show them my Medicare card.

I am not trying to “game” the system, and I am not receiving anything that I am not owed. I have paid into Medicare all of my working life, and as a matter of fact, after being on dialysis for three years, you have to sign up for Medicare. So I figured, why not do it sooner?

As I understand it, most transplant centers want you to have at least Medicare part A (hospital insurance), and from what my transplant center told me, Medicare part B (outpatient insurance) will cover the cost of my anti-rejection medication after I have a transplant.

Health care is expensive. If I did not have Medicare, and I were not covered by an employer sponsored group health plan, I would be paying more than $500 per month for insurance if I could find someone that would insure me. ESRD is not a cheap disease to manage, which is why I am thankful that there is a provision in Medicare to help cover the lion’s share of my medical costs.

Medicare will only cover, however, 80% of health care costs, which is why I am also thankful that the state of Oregon (where I live) can sell Medicare supplement plans to patients under 65 who have ESRD (not all states do, see Moving to a New State with ESRD).