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As you may remember, I recently received my Medicare card in the mail. It wasn’t really a surprise, yet I wasn’t really prepared for it, either. In the month or so since it arrived, I have thought off and on about looking into Medi-Gap or Prescription Drug plans, but I haven’t done anything concrete.

Then yesterday my husband-who-lives-across-town came up with a question for consideration: When the law changed many years back and California teachers were allowed to be covered by Medicare, he opted out of having deductions taken, because he would be eligible as my spouse. (The standard advice at that time was “why pay for it twice if you don’t have to?”) So if we are no longer married, is he still eligible? By Social Security’s rules, an ex-spouse of a marriage “of long duration” (ten years or more) can collect Social Security benefits based on their other half’s record, even though they are divorced. Does Medicare work the same way?

I went searching for the answer tonight on the Medicare.gov website. I found lots of answers, but none fit my questions. I reviewed the FAQs inside, outside, and upside down, but found nothing useful. (Although there are certainly enough choices in questions!) In typical FAQ fashion, they answered everything but what I needed to know!

I can’t really fault the SSA for their inadequate questions. My question is certainly not typical; my guess is there aren’t too many couples living apart as long as we have who are considering staying married to make sure both parties are insured. (It occurs to me that in some ways we are better partners now than we were under the same roof for so long.)

Tomorrow I will have to talk to a human.

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