WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU ENROLL IN MEDICARE
Three critical things to know to keep your healthcare costs in check and make smart decisions.
- The importance of enrolling in Medicare on time
It sounds like a no-brainer, but most people don’t realize that the effects of procrastination in their enrollment can cost them a rise in their part B premiums (these are the premiums that cover medical services) by 10% for each year they were eligible for Medicare but didn’t enroll. The “Initial Enrollment Period” is 7 months long, beginning three months before your 65th birthday and ending three months after. You may still enroll during the “General Enrollment Period” (from January 1 – March 31 of each year), however coverage won’t begin until July and be advised that you may have a late penalty.
Another item to note: if you’re already receiving Social Security benefits before your 65th birthday, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare (you’ll receive notification in the mail via a Medicare card in the 3 months before your 65th birthday if you are automatically enrolled) Special enrollment periods are available for people who are either working as a volunteer abroad or still working at age 65 with employer-provided healthcare coverage.
- Which plan is right for you?
There are two main plan choices for a Medicare enrollee – the “original” Medicare plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Read on to discover the basic components of each plan and which is best for your needs.
The “Original” Medicare Plan includes:
- Part A: hospital coverage
- Part B: physician/medical insurance
- Part D: optional, provides prescription drug coverage
- Enrollees can also opt to add on a private ‘Medigap’ plan which will pay for more of what Medicare doesn’t cover
Medicare Advantage Plan, sometimes a better option than the Original Medicare Plan, are regulated by the US government although they are offered by private insurers. These plans are required to offer at least as much coverage as the original Medicare Plan and many often include prescription drug coverage as well as vision, dental or hearing coverage.
The Medicare website offers a helpful tool – the Medicare Plan Finder to help you compare your plan options. Whichever plan you choose, be aware that you may choose a different plan the following year.
- Take Advantage of the Available Services
Screenings and preventative care may sometimes be available at no extra cost, in addition to the wellness benefits included in your coverage. One annual wellness visit to your primary care doctor is included at no extra charge in your membership. You may also be eligible to other perks such as discounts on gym membership.
In conclusion, following the tips above to make the most of your Medicare enrollment can enable seniors to live a longer and healthier life.
At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones. We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.
If you would like more information on Medicare, the Affordable Care, or the impact of new health care laws on your health care coverage, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty.
We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.
Sources: Fox BusinessNews