Medicare enrollment can be intimidating to the ill-prepared. There is an ever-changing list of rules and exceptions along with a variety of coverage options and registration requirements. Rest assured knowing the millions of Americans enroll in Medicare coverage each year successfully, and you can be one of them. Here are four tips to help make enrolling in Medicare easier.
Make Sure You Are Eligible
Don’t spend unnecessary time trying to fill out forms if you haven’t quite reached the age of eligibility. You are able to receive Medicare benefits once you reach the age of 65 and can enroll up to three months before and after your birthday. Just like almost everything about Medicare, there are certain exceptions when it comes to eligibility. You can sign up if you’re under 65 if you have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months or for other specific medical reasons.
Keep in mind that even if you still have health insurance through an employer, 65-year-olds are only exempt from signing up for Medicare if they’re enrolled in a group policy from an employer with at least 20 employees. Medicare enrollment is automatic if you’re already receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65. Make sure to enroll if you’re required as penalties can be steep if you delay.
Determine Your Health Care Needs
Before enrolling in Medicare, you need to determine the type and amount of health care that you believe you will require for the coming year. Since you can change your plan during open enrollment each year, you only need to think about your health care needs for the next 12 months.
Medicare plans vary as do the doctors that support them, so deciding if visiting a specific physical is important, the amount of prescription medication you may require, and if hearing and vision care are necessary. Ongoing care and regular drug needs will have a significant impact on the plan you’ll want to enroll in and your final expenses. Once you know the kind of care you require, you can begin researching Medicare plans to find the one that fits you best.
Research Available Plans
There are four Medicare Parts. Parts A and B together make up what’s commonly called “Original Medicare.” Original Medicare helps cover inpatient, outpatient, and home care. Part C is often called “Medicare Advantage.” Medicare Advantage combines elements from Parts A and B for a lower cost option, but may not be the best fit for everyone. Part D will be your Prescription Drug Plan.
You can select which Parts that you’d like to enroll in based on your needs, and your monthly premiums will be based on your income and employment history. Many states offer their own variations or requirements related to Medicare, so you will want to research or contact your local Social Security website or office for all of the details.
When enrolling in Medicare, sometimes you may find that there isn’t a plan that truly fits your needs or you worry that you’ll still have large health care expenses after insurance. Outside of Medicare, there are many insurance options available to supplement your plan with what’s commonly called Medigap insurance. As the name implies, Medigap insurance helps to fill the gaps caused by coverage holes in your Medicare plan. Medigap plans help cover expenses such as deductibles, copayments, prescriptions, dental, and vision. While not necessary for everyone, you may have greater peace of mind with the added benefit of Medigap coverage.
Contact the Experts
It is common to feel nervous when enrolling in Medicare, but there are many people available to help make the process simpler. There are a lot of rules, requirements, and exceptions regarding Medicare, so thorough research is a necessity. If you ever find yourself struggling or with questions, make sure to call or set up an in-person appointment at the Social Security office to meet with an expert who can resolve your issues.
Enrolling in Medicare doesn’t have to be intimidating. You can sign up with confidence and feel secure with your health care coverage if you take some extra time to prepare before you become eligible. Rest easy knowing that your medical needs are taken care of by your carefully selected Medicare plan.