If you're enrolled in Medicare or are about to become eligible, avoiding common mistakes that could cost you money or leave you without the coverage you need is essential. Here are some common Medicare mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Not signing up for medicare on time
One common mistake with Medicare is not signing up on time. If you qualify for Medicare at age 65, you are offered a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) to enroll. If you miss this window, you could face late enrollment penalties that can increase your premiums for as long as you have Medicare. Enroll during your IEP or within eight months of losing employer-based health insurance to avoid these penalties.
- Choosing the wrong medicare plan
Medicare offers different plans with varying levels of coverage, and choosing the wrong plan could leave you with gaps in coverage or paying more than you need to. Before selecting a plan, you should compare its advantages and expenses to identify the plan that matches your needs and budget. If you're unsure which plan is right for you, consider working with a licensed insurance agent specializing in Medicare.
- Not reviewing your plan annually
Even if you're happy with your Medicare plan, reviewing it annually to ensure it meets your needs is essential. Medicare plans can change yearly, and you may find that another plan offers better coverage or lower costs. Be sure to review your plan during the annual enrollment period, i. e from October 15 to December 7 each year.
- Assuming medicare covers everything
Medicare covers many healthcare services, but it doesn't cover everything. For example, it doesn't cover dental, vision, or hearing services, and it may not cover certain prescription drugs or medical procedures. It's vital to understand what is and isn't covered by Medicare to plan accordingly and avoid unexpected bills.
- Not enrolling in Part D when you're eligible
Medicare Part D is also known as the prescription drug plan. If you choose not to register immediately after you become eligible, you may encounter a late enrollment penalty if you later decide to sign up. To avoid this penalty, enroll in Part D during your Initial Enrollment Period or within 63 days of losing creditable drug coverage. If you don't take prescription drugs now, it's good to enroll in Part D so you have coverage in case you need it later.
- Not taking advantage of preventive services
Medicare covers many preventive services, such as mammograms, flu shots, and colonoscopies, at no cost to you. These services can help detect health problems early when they're easier to treat, so take advantage of them.
- Not considering a medicare advantage plan
Medicare Advantage plans supplement Original Medicare, often offering additional benefits, such as dental, vision, and hearing coverage. If you're looking for more comprehensive coverage or want to bundle your healthcare services into one plan, a Medicare Advantage plan could be a good option.
- Not understanding the "observation status" rule
Medicare may not cover your stay if you're admitted to the hospital but are placed in "observation status" instead of being officially admitted. This can result in higher out-of-pocket costs for you, so be sure to ask whether you're formally admitted to the hospital or in observation status.
- Not understanding the difference between Medigap and Medicare Advantage
Medigap and Medicare Advantage are two different types of plans that can help you cover the costs of health care services. Medigap plans supplement Original Medicare by covering some of the expenses that Medicare doesn't cover, while Medicare Advantage plans supplement Original Medicare and often offer additional benefits. It's essential to understand the differences between these plans and to choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.
- Not reporting changes in income or assets
If your income or assets change significantly, your eligibility for Medicare programs like Extra Help or Medicaid could be affected. It's essential to report these changes to Medicare to avoid any penalties or loss of coverage.
In conclusion, understanding Medicare and its various plans and rules can be complex and confusing. However, by avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure you have the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Contact a licensed insurance agent or Medicare representative for help if you have any questions or concerns about Medicare.