While Medicare offers seniors a great foundation as far as healthcare is concerned, some people manage to get far more out of Medicare than others do. Often, what a senior gets out of Medicare is related foremost to what he or she puts into planning, seeking information and advice, making careful choices, and taking advantage of every Medicare service likely to help maintain good health.
Following are seven tips to help any senior—and especially you—get the most out of Medicare.
1. Know all about your enrollment opportunities and options.
If you’re approaching your Medicare years, start by being aware of opportunities you’ll have during your Initial Enrollment Period. If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, your Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. If you become Medicare-eligible before age 65 due to disability, you have a similar seven-month enrollment period starting three months before the month your Medicare eligibility begins.
Your initial enrollment signs you up for Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B), which provides the foundation of your Medicare coverage. Medicare Part A helps cover hospital costs, while Medicare Part B normally pays 80% of the cost of covered medical expenses.
During your Initial Enrollment Period, you’re also eligible to sign up for Medicare Part C and Medicare Part D.
Medicare Part C (also called Medicare Advantage) plans are optional Medicare plans offered by Medicare-approved private companies. Part C/Medicare Advantage plans replace your Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B coverage, and can also provide additional coverage in various areas of health including dental, vision, and hearing.
Medicare Part D plans are voluntary prescription drug plans available to anyone enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B. Part D prescription drug plans can be added to Original Medicare or provided through Medicare Advantage plans.
If you’re already a Medicare veteran, you need to be aware of further enrollment opportunities you’ll have. Every year, for example, the Medicare Annual Election Period provides an opportunity to make certain changes in your Medicare coverage. Under certain conditions you may qualify for Special Enrollment. You’ll need to know about all your enrollment opportunities, disenrollment opportunities, coverage options, and a lot more. How does Medicare supplement Plan A differ from Plan F? Plan B from Plan G? You can’t make the best choices without knowing all the options and opportunities you have available. That may sound like a daunting task, but do you know what? MedicareMall will help make it easy!
2. Carefully evaluate your needs.
Part of making sound choices is knowing what you need. Your medical history is normally the best indication of what coverage is most likely to suit you. If your prescription drug costs are substantial, for example, you’ll nearly always be benefit from enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan. The medical attention you expect to need in coming months is usually the best indication of which Medicare supplement plan is right for you. It’s important to recognize the gaps in Original Medicare coverage and to evaluate any further needs on the basis of your medical history.
• How often do I visit my doctor?
• What prescriptions do I take?
• How often do I travel?
• Am I currently paying for coverage I don’t need?
• Am I paying too much out-of-pocket for services I’ll continue to need in the future?
• Do I need catastrophic coverage? Does my current plan pay for this?
Keep in mind that far too many people who decide to take their chances with Original Medicare alone despite medical evidence indicating a need for more comprehensive coverage are paying for it now—in many cases by going without treatments or procedures their doctors say they need … simply because they neglected to fill certain gaps in their basic Medicare coverage and can’t afford those treatments or procedures out-of-pocket. With a good Medigap plan their lives would be a lot easier.