A driver's license (age 16)? The right to vote (18)? Your first (legal) drink (21)? Your first meaningful kiss (fill in age here)? You can add other assorted first evers here.
I've been through those. A long time ago, in fact.
But that doesn't mean the milestones stop.
This past week, I received my Medicare Health Insurance card. You don't qualify for one of those until you are 65, so I guess that means in the eyes of the government, I'm now officially and legally old.
|My Medicare card looks a whole lot like this.|
I started the process on Dec. 21 — did it all online — and I received my card (the birthday card of all birthday cards, I guess) a week ago. So the whole process took maybe three weeks.
Not bad for government work.
I don't become valid until Feb. 1 (not my birthday, but the month of my birth), so I still have a few weeks to go before I start waving my card around in doctors' offices.
What all of this means, of course, is that from here on out (the "out" part sounds rather ominous) is that my health care really is affordable now. I'd been paying for my health care insurance through monthly drafts from my pension, but this year, for the first time, my pension couldn't quite cover the rate increase. In fact, my health care insurance ate up my monthly pension almost to the dollar.
So Medicare is coming at just the right time for me. Consequently, a part of my pension will return to my bank account. At least, that's the plan.
I have mixed feelings about all of this Medicare business, of course. Even though it took me 65 years to get here, it still got here pretty damn quick. It's kind of like being careful what you wish for. On the other hand, I've been in the work force since I was 15 years old, so 50 years of contributing to my social security is about to pay hard-earned dividends.
And, yes, Social Security is the next milestone. I become fully vested when I turn 66, so I think I can hold out until then before before I start collecting that check.
In the meantime, I guess I should enjoy the perks. Some places, like restaurants, acknowledged that I was a senior when I turned 50. I got free iced tea, or maybe dollar discounts on certain meals. I can save a dollar or two at a movie theater. When I got my AARP card, I took advantage of the 10% discounts on hotel rooms whenever we went on vacation.
We have run into the occasional conundrum, of course. My wife, Kim, is 55 and about to turn 56, but she hardly looks it. She still gets carded when she buys wine. So she's in that bureaucratic gray area where she has to prove she's old enough to drink at one place while at the same time proving she's old enough for a senior discount on iced tea at another place. Go figure.
But this is where I am. It looks like a good place from here. The trick now is to make all of it move in slow motion.
From here on out.