There are several aspects about Medicare you should familiarize yourself with before applying for the program. Individuals over the age of 65 and those under that age who have been disabled for 24 months are eligible to receive benefits, but researching before your eligibility date and learning about supplement plans can help you moving forward and ease the process for you.
Knowing exactly what Medicare costs and what it consists of is vital to you, so that when your enrollment period opens up, you are prepared for anything that may come your way. Researching during your enrollment period will help you to figure out what plan’s best for you.
Medicare Is Not a Free Program
As stated, there are costs associated with Medicare, and even with those costs, you will not be covered for all of your medical expenses and services. Many people get caught by surprise about this misconception. Part A of the program is in most cases free, but individual circumstances can cause this to vary. Part B comes with a cost of about $104.90 per month in 2015, and that cost could be more depending on your income level. You will also need to consider any late enrollment fees you could encounter and you need to pay the deductible amount upfront in order for any Medicare coverage to be paid out.
You Have Options
When determining the best option for your individual situation, you have a few choices, such as:
- Original Medicare Part A and B only
- Original Medicare Part A and B with a Prescription Drug Plan
- Original Medicare Part A and B with a Medicare Supplement and Prescription Drug Plan
- Medicare Advantage plan
The supplement plans are set up to cover some gaps in the original Medicare program and the Advantage plans combine the different parts of the program and consolidate the many parts of Medicare and put it in one convenient location for you. Each plan has different fees associated with them, so research carefully ahead of time.
Different Network Providers
Typically, network providers that accept Medicare also will accept the Supplement plan as well. This can help your stress level just a bit when it comes to trying to find a provider that will accept your Medicare plan or if you have an individual group plan through your employer. There are separate networks for the Advantage plans since it not part of the original Medicare program, but in some cases, these networks can overlap one another, meaning you have a better chance of finding a provider that accept several different plans.
Prescriptions Are Not Covered by Medicare
As hard as this one is to swallow, it is unfortunately true. A separate policy is required in order to have your prescriptions covered if you stick with Original Medicare. It is also important to note that should you decide to opt out of the coverage for prescriptions, but decide you want to add it at a later date, there will be a fine associated every month that you do not have this policy. This is where a good consultation about the different policies comes in handy. Knowing your options in the beginning can save you many headaches in the future, and that’s usually when you need these items the most.
Know Your Open Enrollment Period
Enrollment periods can be confusing when it comes to which is the best time to sign up without accruing any penalties. If you miss your open enrollment period, you will have to wait a full year to add or drop any policies, so researching policies and plans before you turn 65 is the best way to inform and prepare yourself about when the best time to sign up is and what you will need.