Four years ago today, we arrived in Marloth Park, South Africa, after 59 hours of travel from Mumbai, India, after ten months in lockdown in a hotel room near the Mumbai Airport. We were masked, gloved, wearing face shields, and flying tentatively, with Covid 19 still prevalent worldwide. We were so happy to finally be free.
Here’s what we wrote in a short post on January 13, 2021 from this link here:
“It’s after 7:15 pm on Wednesday, and we are exhausted. I’d hope to do a post tonight, but I don’t have the energy to put it together. We’ve already taken several amazing photos, and tomorrow morning, coffee in hand, we’ll look forward to sharing details about our new home and new life at Lovebird’s Nest in Marloth Park and some memorable wildlife photos from our garden. It’s heavenly.
Please check back tomorrow while we get back into our usual rhythm of posting daily,
Thanks for your patience, kind words, and encouragement. We are so grateful!”
It’s hard to believe it was four years ago when it seems like yesterday. We made a point of quarantining to protect our friends in the bush, and in no time, we could socialize with all the wonderful friends we’ve made in the bush over the years. It was an extraordinary time, although we continued to exercise caution to avoid contracting Covid-19.
It wasn’t until we left South Africa for a few cruises in 2022 that we were infected on a cruise, leaving us both with lingering, long-term COVID-19 symptoms. Tom coughed for months, and I had a sinus-related face and head pain for 18 months that only resolved a few months ago. Enough on that, but sharing this memory with all our readers was meaningful.
I will continue to share what we mentioned in yesterday’s post on the supplement plan I chose as an adjunct to enrolling in Part B Medica on January 2, 2024. I’ve yet to hear from the Railroad Retirement Board if my enrollment has been processed, but it should be in the next few weeks by February 1, when the supplement kicks in, and I will finally be insured.
Here is the link to yesterday’s Part 1, explaining in detail the penalty imposed upon me for late enrollment of Part B, for which I opted out when I turned 65 in 2013 since there was no coverage outside the US. The supplement I’ve chosen covers me outside the US for a maximum of $50,000 annually for emergency medical treatment and services, not standard medical care such as doctor’s office visits and tests.
With doctor appointments under $50 in South Africa and tests even less, we will continue to see Doc Theo as needed while we’re in Marloth Park in five months.
My US Medicare insurance rep, Janet Meuller, mentioned in yesterday’s post, has been a fantastic resource of valuable information, answering many questions I threw at her over several phone conversations in the past several weeks. If you are in a position to consider supplements and drug plans, once again, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: we are not involved in any compensation for recommending Janet. We only do so based on the quality of service I received, as we often do when encountering exceptional professionals). She can work with you on plans for any state in the US.
So here’s what we chose for me. (Tom wasn’t ready to sign up at this point).
There are several plans available from which to choose. I won’t list them all here since there are too many to list, which are based on your state of residence, your age, and other factors.
With Janet’s help, I chose Plan G with Aflac, priced at $157 a month (could change annually as any supplement can and most likely will) but enables me to implement the following.”
- Maximum annual copay: $240. No other copays for any other Medicare-approved services.
- After the $240 copay is met, there is 100% coverage for all Medicare-accepted services, doctor appointments, hospital stays, surgeries, tests, and more. Always check when making an appointment to see if the medical doctor or facility accepts Medicare and your plan, in my case, Plan G.
- Maximum annual $50,000, with $250 deductible, which pays 80%, on emergency medical services for foreign travel outside the US. Air and ground ambulance is covered. Here is a link with information on ambulance and air ambulance services for Plan G.
- No network constraints: I can choose any doctor or medical facility I’d prefer anywhere in the US, unlike many plans that restrict the patient to specific local networks, doctors, and facilities.
- No doctor referrals are required for hospital care, and specialists
- Chiropractic services are covered under these stipulations:” Medicare Plan. G covers chiropractic services, but only for medically necessary spinal manipulation, as Original Medicare covers. This means that additional chiropractic services or treatments, such as preventive visits or chiropractor-ordered tests, are not covered under Plan G.
- No dental, vision, or drug coverage is included in Plan G. They must be purchased separately. We opted out of those coverages, which we can change during any open enrollment period. Penalties may be assessed due to late enrollment, as in our case.
Why didn’t we choose a dental, vision, and pharmacy plan? We have dental work done in South Africa, which is less than 20% of the cost in the US. We both had (and don’t have now) dental problems when our teeth were thoroughly examined before we left South Africa nine months ago. Also, we both see an optometrist in South Africa. Tom’s eyeglass prescription is current, as is my contact lens prescription. We will have exams again when we return in June.
As for a pharmacy plan, Janet reviewed all my medications with me. Based on plans available for a pharmacy plan, I am paying less than copays would be with a US plan. I continue to buy medicines from ProgressiveRX or many Canadian companies that ship drugs from countries where the manufacturing of worldwide generic medication is around 80%. See this article here for details. Also, I often get refills of my medications while in South Africa, with drugs costing less than copays would be on any of the available plans.
The costs I incur for my few medicines are less than buying drugs in the US with copays that I’d pay with a pharmacy plan. Please do your own research to decide what is best for you.
I can’t stress enough how most of these plans are based on your individual needs, not necessarily the same as mine. As world travelers, we needed to find what works best for our circumstances.
That’s it for today, folks. Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend. We are! We are heading down to the Village for dinner tonight at what appears to be an excellent Mexican restaurant. We will take photos and report back tomorrow.
Photo from ten years ago today, January 13, 2014: