When age 65 rolls around, it’s time to get serious about signing up for Medicare. With multiple coverage packages offered and supplementals available, there are some mistakes you can make throughout the enrollment process.
Errors to Avoid With Medicare
1. Missing the Enrollment Deadline
This problem usually arises when you leave your job, considering that your employer will have health insurance coverage if you’re still working at age 65. You will have eight months from the day you leave your job to enroll, or you will have to wait until the next enrollment period (October 15 through December 7). If you fail to sign up before the deadline, not only will you not have Medicare, but you also will have to pay a 10% late enrollment penalty.
2. Failing to Sign Up Because You Aren’t Receiving Social Security Benefits
Anyone that already receives Social Security benefits will automatically get enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B when they turn 65. If you delay filing until you are 65, you need to sign up for Medicare manually. You have seven months to enroll, spanning from three months before your birth month till three months after—so if your birthday is in May, for example, you have from February to August of your 65th year to sign up.
3. Failing to Assess Your Plan During Open Enrollment Each Year
Open Enrollment is not only the time to renew your policy, but it’s also the time to review it. Medicare plans change their parameters annually, including boosted premiums and changes to their network of providers. Medicare D is particularly essential to evaluate, as the cost and coverage for your prescriptions can vary significantly from year to year. You should also review the covered network of providers for your Medicare Advantage plan during this period every year.
4. Not Switching Your Medicare Advantage Plans Mid-Year If Needed
Starting in 2019, you can change plans after open enrollment in special circumstances—like moving somewhere that isn’t in your plan’s service area. Also, if there’s a five-star rated Medicare Advantage plan in your area, you can switch to that policy at any time.
5. Choosing the Wrong Medigap Policy
A Medigap policy is supplemental coverage provided by private insurance agencies to fill any holes in your standard Medicare coverage. These policies are usually for those who have pre-existing conditions, and initial Medicare enrollment allows you to get any plan in your area without any issues. It’s essential to do your research for Medigap coverage because if you find that you need to switch to a different plan later, insurers can charge you more or even reject you because of your health.
6. Going Out-of-Network
If you receive treatment for a doctor outside of your plan’s network, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the entire expense, which can get very expensive. To avoid this issue, you have two options:
- Check your plan’s network list to find covered doctors in your area.
- During the enrollment period, choose a plan that includes your doctor in their coverage.
If you’re unsure what Medicare policy is right for you, Mary Marshall Medicare - Independent Broker can help you choose the best package for your needs. She works with residents of Lakewood, CO, that could benefit from expert advice with their health and budget in mind. Whether you’re looking to initially enroll or change your plan during the annual enrollment period, call Mary’s office at (303) 241-6665 to start the sign up process by scheduling an appointment.