Phyllis Vance turns 65

Today I read that actress Phyllis Smith’s is turning 65. Like me, you probably remember her best from her role of Phyllis Lapin-Vance on the television show, The Office.

If her character were actually turning 65 and retiring and if Dunder Mifflin were in Stratton, Maine instead of Scranton, PA and if she called me to help her find a Medicare plan (I know, a lot of “ifs”).  I started to imagine what that meeting would have been like.

I arrive at Phyllis’ home on time and ring the bell. She answers and invites me in.

I introduce myself, “Hello, I’m Todd.”

We shake hands.

“I’m Phyllis Vance,” she replies. “My husband is Bob Vance, he owns Vance Refrigeration.”

“Oh, yes I’ve seen his television commercials,” I reply.

She smiles a satisfied smile.

As Stevie Wonder plays quietly in the background, we sit down and start talking about what her needs are, when she plans to retire and I tell her a little about myself and how I got into this business of helping people.

“Can I get you something to drink? Water? Coffee?  How about some cake?” She holds up what appears to be a cake in the shape of a woman’s butt wearing nothing but a thong.

“I made it myself. I’m thinking of going into the erotic cake business part time when I retire.”

I politely refuse the cake and I start my standard spiel, “Before I begin explaining Medicare and how it works, do you have any questions?”

She asks if “Viagra” is covered by Medicare and I explain how prescription medications are covered by private health insurance plans with an approved Medicare contract under Part D of Medicare.” I explain, “Not all drugs available are covered by Part D plans. Drugs used for purely cosmetic purposes, as well as Erectile Disfunction remedies such as Viagra and Cialis, are also excluded from most plans. However, starting January 1, 2016 some Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans have included Viagra on their lists of covered drugs.

“That’s good,” she grins, “because when Bob turns 65 he’ll need that.”

I explain how Medicare has four parts, A and B – managed by the federal government, referred to as Original Medicare and C and D – offered by private health insurance companies with contracts approved by Medicare. As I tell her the details on the differences of Part A and Part B, the costs and what they cover, she asks if Medicare would cover her in Rome.

“Friends of ours that I used to work with, Jim and Pam went to Rome a few years ago so Bob is taking me there this summer.”

“That sounds wonderful. I’ve always wanted to see Italy,”

She continues, “Jim and Pam had one of those office romances. I knew about it before anyone else.”

After hearing some stories about this young couple we talk about her insurance options. I explain the differences between Medigap plans and Medicare Advantage plans and how both work with Medicare. I go into detail about the Emergency coverage both types of plans offer outside the U.S., while she is in Rome.  After she asks a few more questions and determines which type of plans seem best for her we talk about the prescriptions she takes and I look them up to see which plans offer the lowest overall costs for her.

After reviewing these plans she tells me which one she likes best and we fill out the application together. While I’m filling out the application I ask if her co-workers threw her a retirement party and she tells me that since she is head of the party planning committee she actually had to plan her own party. She tells me some stories about this horrible woman named Angela that she worked with but in the end she’s really going to miss everyone there, even Angela.

I take the application and I tell her the next steps in the process.  She asks what she has to do next and I tell her, “Nothing.  I will take care of it from here.  If there are any problems with the application, I will call you and let you know.  I will also follow up with you in a couple weeks to make sure you have your insurance card and answer any remaining questions.

We say our goodbyes and I leave my business card so she can contact me if she thinks of any more questions or gets anything unusual in the mail. I get in my car and smile to myself as I drive back to the office, remembering why I love this job so much.  I love helping people and I get to meet so many truly wonderful people from all walks of life and they share some great stories!

The end.

If you want to know more about the differences between Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans I also wrote about that here: