As you prepare to enroll in Medicare, you may have some questions about the program and what it will provide in terms of your health care needs. With today's technology, it can be easy to get confused as to what is and isn't offered through the government-run system as well as the services covered.
The age at which you can sign up for Medicare is 65, even if you plan on taking you Social Security benefits early. The only way you can get Medicare at a younger age is if you have a disability. If you're still working past age 65, you'll need to sign up for Medicare unless you're covered by your employer.
You should know that the federal government runs and regulates Medicare so you won't have to worry about receiving inferior care. The program also pays your doctor for approximately 75 percent of the cost of medical services you use.
Unless you qualify for financial assistance, Medicare has monthly premiums you must pay in order to receive coverage. How much you pay will depend on the plan you choose.
Unlike other types of health insurance, you may not have an out-of-pocket expense cap with Medicare. There is no limit with Traditional Medicare but Medicare Advantage plans must have annual caps.
If you have current or past health problems you can still sign up for Medicare as they are not counted against you. You will not be required to pay a higher premium if you have a preexisting medical condition or a history of smoking, alcohol use or obesity.
Once you've signed up for Medicare you won't have to repeat the steps year after year unless you want to make changes to your existing coverage. If you do want to make an alterations to your plan then you can do so during the open enrollment period that runs from October through December.
Medicare mistakes to avoid
Since Medicare can sometimes be a confusing program, there are some mistakes you'll want to avoid when enrolling:
- Be sure to enroll in Medicare Part B coverage when you should. This is critical as late enrollment will result in penalties that show up as extra charges on your premiums as well as a delay in coverage.
- Don't assume you don't qualify for Medicare because you haven't worked long enough. It only takes about 10 years of working to collect the 40 credits you need to enroll in Medicare to have your Part A premiums covered. Also, know that there is no minimum credit needed to enroll in Parts B or D. You should also refrain from assuming that you don't qualify for assistance with paying your premiums.
- Since you don't know what your future holds, it may prove to be beneficial to sign up for Part D even if you don't take any medications. Part D providers coverage when you need it so you can always go with the plan that has the lowest premium in case you find yourself filling a prescription.
- The term "open enrollment" can lead to misunderstanding but know that this is the time during which people who already have Medicare can make changes to their coverage for the upcoming year. You have a longer period of time to choose your coverage when you turn 65.
- An essential part of having Medicare coverage is making sure you read you Annual Notice of Change. These important documents will let you know if any changes were made to your existing coverage so you can go with something else during open enrollment.