We all pay taxes into the Medicare program, and we will become eligible for benefits at age 65. But beyond that, most people don’t know a whole lot about Medicare. The program is actually quite complicated, and learning about it beforehand can help you plan for retirement, healthcare, and other aspects of your future. So with that in mind, learn at least these seven basic facts so that you can make solid decisions later.
You’re required to enroll. Many people think of Medicare as an optional government program that offers health insurance benefits to people over 65. On the contrary, you’re actually required to enroll in the program by four months after your 65’th birthday. If you miss the deadline, you will be charged higher premiums when you do enroll later.
There are several types of Medicare. Original Medicare encompasses Part A (hospitalization coverage) and Part B (routine care). You can also add a Part D (prescription) plan. However, you can also opt for Medicare Part C, also know as Advantage plans, which combine Parts A and B. Some Advantage plans also include Part D coverage.
Medicare won’t necessarily cover everything you need. You might need some prescriptions, equipment, or other items that are not covered by Medicare. Medicare also does not pay for healthcare received outside the country in most cases, meaning traveler’s insurance might be a good option. If you ever need long-term nursing care, Medicare will only cover the bill for a very limited time. So you might also consider long term care insurance.
Coverage can change from one year to the next. Medicare plan administrators do sometimes make changes to coverage limits. They must notify you of these changes by mail, so always open any correspondence you receive from Medicare or an Advantage plan provider.
You aren’t stuck with your plan. If you decide a different program would suit you better, you can make changes to your Medicare plan(s) during the Annual Election Period from October 15 to December 7.
Premiums can vary. Part A and Part B coverage cost the same for all of us, but premiums for Part C and Part D plans can vary depending upon where you live.
You can – and should – seek guidance. You don’t have to make all of these difficult decisions alone. Give us a call, and we can offer our expert assistance to help you compare different Medicare plans.