Medicare is a federal health insurance program for those aged 65 and above. Others who qualify for this plan include people with disabilities, End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). Given the complexities associated with these plans, some people may find it challenging to navigate the insurance landscape. To simplify this process, this article lists three mistakes people must avoid making when taking Medicare plan coverage.
Missing the deadlines
Missing the Medicare sign-up deadline is one of the biggest mistakes when taking Medicare plan coverage. Those receiving social benefits over 65 are automatically enrolled in the program. However, others need to enroll for Medicare in the initial enrollment period, which:
- Starts three months before one’s 65th birthday
- Includes the month one turns 65, and
- Ends three months after one turns 65.
Failing to enroll in Medicare in this period could result in a coverage gap. It could also lead to a lifetime late enrollment penalty, increasing with age.
Assuming spouse coverage
Unlike employee insurance programs, Medicare does not automatically cover the entire family. It is meant to provide insurance at an individual level. Those with spouses under 65 may need to opt for alternative insurance plans for their partners, such as an employer-based plan, a COBRA plan, or an individual health insurance policy.
Not having the right Medicare coverage
One may be eligible for four parts of Medicare – parts A, B, C, and D. Part A (inpatient coverage) is usually free. However, the others require the payment of a monthly premium. Medicare Part B covers outpatient care and doctor’s visits. Private companies offer Part C (or Medicare Advantage) for improved coverage, with many plans including vision, hearing, and dental coverage. Medicare Part D offers prescription coverage as set by Medicare. Signing up for the right Medicare plans based on one’s medical needs and expenses can help reduce health-related expenses and save money.
Apart from these mistakes, one must also carefully review the out-of-pocket costs associated with each plan, such as insurance premiums, copay, and deductibles. Review these plans each year to ensure they meet one’s medical needs as time passes.