Planning for health insurance is a smart step, but it’s especially important when we approach our golden years and, suddenly, a list of things we need to carefully check becomes longer. While there are certain things that we can do on our own in order to keep our heart younger, we should not underestimate the importance of choosing the right health coverage.
Medicare is a great benefit for those who qualify, but some people also find it incredibly confusing. Health insurance on its own is already confusing enough but it’s important to keep yourself safely covered in 2018, so we’re going to break it down for you!
What can you do to prepare to enroll in Medicare? Whether you’re planning for your own enrollment or to help a loved one, here are 5 tips every senior need to know about Medicare before enrollment. The more you understand Medicare, the more confident you can be about choosing the right coverage.
1. Initial Enrollment
There are 3 distinct enrollment periods for Medicare you should know about. The best enrollment period is Initial Enrollment which is the first time you sign up for Medicare. This is a 7-month window, and it starts before your 65th birthday. You have until 3 months after your birthday to sign up. The main benefit is you do not need to answer any medical questions in order to sign up for a plan.
If you miss your Initial Enrollment window, you can still sign up during the General Enrollment Period. This takes place every year between January and March. If you meet certain medical or life requirements, you might qualify for a Special Enrollment Period which gives you more flexibility.
2. Know What’s Covered
One of the most confusing parts about Medicare is understanding of what healthcare is covered. Let’s break down the different parts to make more sense of it. First, Medicare Part A covers your hospital care and certain types of home health care. Next, Part B is like typical medical insurance. This covers things like visits to the doctor’s office and outpatient services.
Medicare Part C is where things get more complicated. Part C is also known as a Medicare Advantage Plan, and it’s an alternative to Medicare that’s provided by a private insurance company. How much you pay for your Medicare Part C plan depends on your choice of plan and insurance company. Medicare Part D is your prescription drug coverage.
3. Out-of-Pocket Costs
Like all insurance, Medicare includes some out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Part B has a deductible of $183 in 2018. After you meet your deductible, you’re charged 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. There are usually no annual limits on your out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Part A has a different deductible if you need to be hospitalized and if your hospital stay is more than 60 days. Familiarize yourself with what you’re expected to pay before selecting a plan.
4. Free Services
It’s important to take advantage of any and all free health care services. Once you’ve approached golden years dealing with common injuries on your own may become a tiresome task. As a Medicare recipient, you’ll qualify for a free health check at your doctor’s office every 12 months. You can usually get free preventative treatment as well as flu shots or mammograms. Talk to your doctors about your recommended preventative path so you can stay on top of your health.
5. Shop Around for Medicare Part D
As stated before, your Medicare Part D plan covers prescription drugs. On average, you’ll have around 22 plans in your area which all will have different premiums and costs of medication. These numbers are known to change yearly as insurance companies change the amount they charge, so it’s worth shopping around.
If you already know you take certain prescription medications, calculate these costs before deciding on a plan. You might need to check every year to make sure you’re choosing a plan that gets you the most value. If there’s another plan that better fits your needs, change during the enrollment period.
Getting the Most Out of Medicare
Medicare is a helpful program for many senior citizens although it’s not rare that at the beginning the applicants easily get overwhelmed by Medicare choices. The number of people in the program has increased every year, and the program continues to be valuable to Americans of all health statuses. Many are confused by the different parts of Medicare and how to choose the right plan. These tips above will ensure you or your loved one gets the most out of his or her Medicare plan. You can’t put a price on your health, but Medicare helps make it more affordable to live well.