Medicare mistakes are common due to the complex nature of Medicare, the national healthcare system for people over 65 and some disabled people. Here are five costly Medicare mistakes to avoid.
1. Not enrolling when you first become eligible
Most people will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A when they turn 65. If you are not already receiving Social Security benefits, you will need to enroll in Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period. This is the three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month, and the following three months. If you don’t enroll when you first become eligible, you could face late enrollment penalties later on.
2. Failing to read your Annual Notice of Change
This document arrives in the mail each September and notifies you of any changes to your current Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans, like increasing premiums, deductibles, or changes in covered services. It’s important to read this document in case you need to change plans during the Open Enrollment Period. Failing to do so could mean you’re stuck with an expensive plan that doesn’t give you the coverage you need in the following year.
3. Assuming Medicare will cover everything
While Medicare will probably cover most of your healthcare expenses once you turn 65, it doesn’t cover everything. For example, Medicare doesn’t cover deductibles, premiums, copays, or coinsurance. If you have a chronic illness or expect recurring doctor visits, this could mean you’re paying a lot out-of-pocket. Thankfully, Medigap exists to help you cover some of the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare.
4. Not picking the right Medigap plan
Medigap currently offers 10 plans (standard in most states) to help you save on out-of-pocket Medicare costs, so knowing which one is right for you can be tricky. Do you choose the one with the most coverage with higher premiums? Or one with fewer coverage options and lower premiums? Consider consulting your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to help you decide.
5. Not doing your research for Medicare Advantage
Original Medicare is made up of Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance), which most Medicare beneficiaries have. Original Medicare doesn’t cover services like dental, vision, and hearing care. However, many Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans do cover these services. If you know you’ll want coverage of these services, it would be wise to research your Medicare Advantage options before enrolling in Medicare coverage.
Additional Medicare resources:
· Visit www.Medicare.gov
· Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
· Call your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to see if you qualify for any financial assistance.