Believe it or not, more than 10,000 people enroll in Medicare every day. And if you’re like most people, understanding the nuances of Medicare can be overwhelming.
Medicare Enrollment Period and Process
Though insurance of all types can be confusing, Medicare doesn’t have to be. You just need to know the basics before you start the enrollment process.
We’ve got you covered about medicare enrollment period. In this guide, we’ll go over a few important facts about Medicare enrollment period and process to help take some of the mystery out of your coverage options.
1. Medicare Has Multiple Parts
When you first start the enrollment process, it seems overly simple. After all, you’re just enrolling in Medicare, right?
Unlike standard health insurance, Medicare comes in several parts, and each part covers a separate type of healthcare.
Medicare Part A covers treatment in hospitals while Part B covers treatments and appointments with your regular doctors. These two parts are what make up standard Medicare coverage.
But if you want prescription drug coverage, you’ll also need to enroll in a Part D plan separately.
It Doesn’t Cover Everything
Hospital and general medical insurance are good, but they’re not the most comprehensive coverage options out there. If you want additional insurance coverage for things like dental care and vision checks, you’ll need to enroll in Medicare Part C.
Part C plans, also known as Medicare Advantage plans, are issued by private insurance providers and are the most comprehensive plans on the market. By law, they have to meet the minimum coverage requirements of original Medicare. But unlike the original plans, they help you maintain your total health with fewer out-of-pocket expenses.
If you have private vision and dental insurance through a spouse or employer, you may be better off just enrolling in original Medicare. If you’re not sure, speak with your insurance agent and compare your options.
2. The Coverage Isn’t Free
Unfortunately, Medicare is not free. You’ll have to pay premiums just like you would to a private insurance provider.
And those premiums vary based on your income. The more you make, the higher your premiums will be.
Do I Have to Apply for Medicare Part B?
If you make less than $85,000 and file taxes singly or $170,000 jointly, your monthly premium for Part A and Part B coverage will be $135.50. The amounts only go up from there.
But keep in mind, these premiums are often cheaper than many private insurance providers. Further, if you enroll in Part D or Part C plans, you’ll pay a premium on top of the premiums for original Medicare enrollment process.
3. There Are Enrollment Deadlines
You’re eligible to enroll in Medicare when you turn 65. And you can enroll in Medicare without taking Social Security benefits.
But the deadline isn’t as flexible as the enrollment periods for regular insurance. If you wait too long to sign up, you might get fined.
In most cases, that fee runs about 10 percent of the current premium for the Medicare plan you’re enrolling in. If you’re late enrolling in all plans, that fee can get expensive. And worse, if you’re late enrolling in Part B coverage, you’ll pay a higher premium for life.
4. When In Doubt, Start Enrolling Early
You can start the enrollment process early, even if you don’t enroll immediately. And it’s always best to start looking into plans about six months before your 65th birthday.
Apply for Part C
Start researching plans and options. If you’re interested in a Part C plan, start searching for providers you’re comfortable working with.
The better prepared you are to enroll once the open period starts, the easier it will be. And don’t hesitate to get help. If you’re asking yourself “are Medicare supplement plans worth it?” decide what you need before open medicare enrollment period begins.
5. You Can Change Plans
Though it seems set in stone, Medicare is flexible to an extent. You’re free to change plans each year during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
The AEP runs between October 15 to December 7. During this time, you can add supplements, switch providers, and enroll in Part C coverage as needed.
It’s always a good idea to review your insurance needs each year to make sure you have the right coverage in place.
6. You’re Always Free to Appeal a Decision
Just like regular insurance plans, Medicare issues payments for services and treatments you receive. This means they might not always cover the full cost of your treatment.
If you disagree with a payment made by your Medicare provider, you can dispute the decision. Submit documents showing the actual cost of the treatment and reach out to your plan administrator for different Medicare plans.
Don’t be afraid to fight for what you deserve. They’ll evaluate the payments and get back to you in about 72 hours with a decision.
7. Medicare Doesn’t Offer Family Benefits
With traditional insurance, you’re able to claim dependents or enroll in a family plan with your spouse. This helps you save money on premiums and deductibles and can help you maximize your savings for retirement.
But the same is not true of Medicare enrollment plans.
Medicare is an individual benefit. This means you can only apply for it for yourself. Your family is not covered by your coverage.
8. You Might Be Automatically Enrolled
Some people get enrolled in Medicare Part A and B coverage before they turn 65 automatically.
If you’ve received Social Security payments, you’ll likely already have Medicare coverage and can skip the standard enrollment period. Take a look through your files and your wallet.
If you have a red, white, and blue Medicare card, you’re already enrolled. All you’ll need to do is review your coverage options during the AEP and update coverage as necessary.
Understand the Facts About Medicare
The truth about Medicare enrollment period is that it can be confusing. But with the right preparation and research, you’ll be able to get the coverage you need quickly.
But Medicare is only one part of planning a successful and healthy retirement. Check out our latest posts for more tips on difference between medicare and medicaid how to get healthy and stay that way.