Medicare is one of those financial safety nets that exist quietly in the background of our lives, and are there when we need to recover from injuries and illnesses. This program will cover large chunks of your healthcare costs when you need it, but if you fall into complacency, you can easily wind up making mistakes that can have serious consequences. Here are four of the most common Medicare mistakes you need to avoid.
Not Signing Up Because You’re Not Receiving Social Security Benefits
If you already receive benefits through social security, you’ll already be enrolled in part A and B Medicare when you hit the age of 65. However, if you’re planning to postpone this until you reach retirement age, you’ll need to sign up on your own initiative. You only have a seven-month window to do this in, starting from three months before your 65th birthday, and ending three months after it. Miss this window, and you’ll find it extremely difficult to ensure you’ll get the coverage you need. Remember that part A is free for the majority of people, so there’s no good reason to wait around!
Choosing the Wrong Medigap Policy
Medigap policies exist to cover the costs of some treatments which basic Medicare may not. Click here to learn more about how different medigap plans can help you. If you purchase a medigap policy within a six-month window of enrolling in Part B Medicare, then you’ll have access to any plan in your area, provided you have a pre-existing condition. However, if you try to switch to a different plan after this window, insurance companies in most states can reject you, or charge you more on account of your condition. Make sure you’re doing your research and choosing your plan wisely.
Assuming That Care Providers Will Always Be Covered by Medicare Advantage
Like many people, you might get all of your coverage through an all-in-one, private Medicare Advantage plan. This covers both prescription drugs and other medical expenses. If this is the case, then it’s important to stick to the plan’s specified network of doctors, hospitals and other care providers. Before you lock in any of these plans, make a point to call your insurer and your doctor, and double-check that they’ll be included in the network for the year ahead. Finding this out the hard way is a very frustrating experience!
Not Looking at Part D in Detail
Enrolment for the Part D program – covering prescription medication - runs from the middle of October through to the beginning of December. This is the best time to review the options you have, as the pricing and coverage tied up in this program can vary significantly from one year to the next. Keep an eye out for an increase in premiums, or in your share of the cost. If you’ve only just been prescribed new medication, or a cheaper alternative to medicine that you’re already on has become available, then start looking for other plans. You might be able to get a much better deal.