Given how complex and unfamiliar Medicare is to most folks approaching retirement age, it’s understandable that there are plenty of misconceptions about enrolling in the program. That is why we want to debunk the following myths about Medicare and the enrollment process:
Medicare Is Free Healthcare!
While it is true that Medicare will cover most of your medical expenses, it isn’t free healthcare. As is probably the case with your current health insurance coverage, you will still pay plenty of out-of-pocket expenses with Medicare for things like premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. And these costs can pile up and quickly drain your retirement savings.
That is why so many seniors on Medicare also purchase private supplemental insurance coverage — also called Medigap plans — that can help fill in these significant gaps in Medicare coverage.
Additionally, some services are not covered at all by Medicare Parts A and B, such as prescription drugs, hearing, dental, and vision coverage. To obtain such benefits, you can purchase a private Medicare Advantage plan that includes the coverage provided by Parts A and B along with these other services.
Medicaid and Medicare Are The Same Program
Medicare and Medicaid are two distinct programs with different benefits and eligibility requirements. Medicare is a federal program that covers most healthcare costs (but not all, as noted) for Americans 65 and up and those under 65 who have certain disabilities. Medicare eligibility is unrelated to your income or assets. That distinguishes it from Medicaid, which is a state and federally funded program designed to provide medical care and related financial help for low-income individuals.
Enrollment in Medicare Is Automatic
While Medicare enrollment is automatic for some people, others will need to take affirmative steps to enroll. And if you want to obtain benefits under Medicare Parts C and D or need a Medigap plan to cover out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Original Medicare, you’ll need to take action as well.
The federal government will automatically enroll you in Medicare Parts A and B, if:
- You are turning 65 and are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.
- You are younger than 65 and have received disability benefits for 24 months.
- You have Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and start receiving disability benefits.
You Can Sign Up For Medicare Whenever You Want
If none of the foregoing apply to you, you will need to sign up for Medicare yourself during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). An IEP is the seven-month period that begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends at the end of the third month after your birthday month. While you can still enroll in Medicare after the end of your IEP, you will get hit with penalties for missing your enrollment window, including a 10 percent increase in your Part B premium.
The only exception to signing up during an IEP is for people who continue working past age 65 and have creditable health coverage through their employer. Such individuals can enroll in Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period immediately after they lose their employer coverage. This period allows them to get Parts A and B within eight months, but they must enroll in Part C or Part D within two months or pay a penalty.
Contact Every Way Health To Learn More About Medigap Coverage
If you need assistance in choosing the Medicare supplemental insurance plan that’s best for you, please get in touch with Every Way Health at 877-460-3943.