Choosing the right healthcare plan is crucial. Medicare provides health insurance coverage to approximately 60 million Americans. If you have already enrolled or want to register for Medicare coverage, consider the following 7 tips:
Knowledge is power and knowing when and how you should enroll for Medicare coverage is essential. Although Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, the initial enrollment period (IEP) is seven months. This means the enrollment starts 3 months before your birthday month and 3 months after your birthday. If you sign up 3 months prior to your 65th birthday, your Medicare coverage will start on the first day of your 65th birthday. However, your Medicare coverage could be delayed if you wait until you turn 65.
Upon enrolling in the Original Medicare, i.e., Part A and B, it is important to determine if you need extra coverage. We all have different health needs, and your Medicare plan should cover all your medical needs. Understand what the Original Medicare plan covers to know if you need further coverage. The Original Medicare covers hospital and medical coverage only. Therefore, dental and drugs are not included in the plan. Identify your medical needs to make the right choice:
People receiving Railroad Retirement Board Benefits or Social Security are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B, i.e., the Original Medicare. However, you need to find out if you will get an automatic enrollment or if you have to do it yourself. Assuming you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare could result in coverage delays or penalties. Therefore, take your time to inquire about your enrollment status. Although you are automatically enrolled in the Original Medicare, it is important to know that you have the initial enrollment period (IEP), which you can use to make coverage changes—for example, getting a Medicare Advantage plan or enrolling in Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
You can delay enrolling in Medicare Part B if you have other medical coverage to avoid paying a premium. For example, if you continue working past 65 and your employer provides medical coverage, you do not need to enroll in Medicare Part B. Also, if you get coverage from your spouse’s employer, you can delay enrolling in Medicare Part B for some time. Before you delay enrolling in Medicare Part B, research and check with the plan benefits administrator to ensure you have coverage. It is prudent to ensure you have creditable coverage and get written proof, especially for drug prescriptions, to avoid inconveniences. Finally, ensure you are eligible for the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) just in case anything happens with your existing medical coverage.
With Medicare Part A and B, you can add additional coverage, for example enrolling in Medicare plan D to get prescription drugs. Additional coverage reduces the cost of getting medical help.
Enrolling on time ensures you avoid delayed coverage and penalties. Expect the following penalties for late enrollment:
Since your medical needs might change, you should evaluate your coverage yearly. The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is from October 15th to December 7th every year. During this period, you can join, drop or switch Medicare plans to suit your needs and budget.
Applying for Medicare coverage is not a daunting task. If you don’t know where to start, consider working with a Medicare broker to help you compare and contrast Medicare plans. Remember to ask the right questions and do your own research to get the right Medicare coverage.
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