If you are turning 65 in 2014, now is the time to prepare for a successful transition to your Medicare years.
Regardless of when your 65th birthday falls during 2014, you need to be prepared for your Medicare initial enrollment period. Your initial enrollment period will begin three months before the month you turn 65 and end three months after the month you turn 65. If you enroll during the first three months of your initial enrollment period, your coverage should begin the first day of your birthday month. If your birthday falls on the first of the month, coverage should begin on the first of the previous month.
If you wait to enroll until after the first three months of your initial enrollment period have passed, your start date may be delayed, so it’s best to enroll well before your 65th birthday if possible.
Signing up for Medicare
It is quick and easy to sign up for Medicare online.
Your initial enrollment signs you up for Original Medicare Part A and Part B, the foundation of your Medicare coverage. Medicare Part A helps cover hospital costs, while Medicare Part B normally pays 80 percent of the cost of covered medical expenses.
Signing up for Medicare Part A and Part B is only the beginning. Once enrolled in Original Medicare, you are able to improve the quality of your Medicare coverage greatly by selecting from the following options.
Medicare Supplement Plans
Original Medicare was never designed to cover all of your hospital or medical care. Although Medicare costs have risen almost every year since the federal program was established in 1965, Medicare benefits have declined over the years in many areas. As a result, there are real gaps in Medicare coverage. Over 10 million Americans currently choose Medicare supplement plans to fill the gaps in Original Medicare.
Medicare supplement plans are sold by private insurance companies to people already enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, and the right plan can save you a lot of money in the short run and especially in the long run by keeping your out-of-pocket healthcare costs to a minimum.
It is important to shop the market, though, before selecting a Medicare supplement plan. That’s because, even though insurance companies offering the same Medigap plans are required to offer the same benefits, companies are free to apply their own pricing and underwriting practices. This means different companies often charge very different prices for exactly the same coverage—and you need to compare plans and rates carefully before selecting a Medicare supplement plan.
The best time to enroll in a Medicare supplement plan is during your Medigap open enrollment period.
Your Medigap open enrollment period begins the first day of the first month you are at least 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B, and lasts six months. During your Medigap open enrollment period, an insurance company cannot reject your application for any of the Medicare supplement plans it sells. You cannot be turned down, or charged more, for your Medigap coverage regardless of preexisting conditions.
Although you can apply for a Medicare supplement plan at any time following your Medigap open enrollment period, medical underwriting is likely to apply and you may not be able to enroll in the plan of your choice. If you see the advantages of enrolling in a Medicare supplement plan, it is highly advisable to enroll during your Medigap open enrollment period, when no insurance company can reject your application for any plan it sells.
The most comprehensive Medicare supplement plan, Medigap Plan F, is designed to cover all the high-risk gaps in Original Medicare, and can virtually eliminate your out-of-pocket Medicare costs. Call MedicareMall toll-free at 1-877-413-1556 for a free 2014 Medicare supplement rate quote.
Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part C)
Medicare Advantage plans are offered by Medicare-approved private companies to people already enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
A Medicare Advantage plan replaces your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, and covers everything Original Medicare covers—except hospice care, which Medicare Part A continues to cover even when you are enrolled in Medicare Advantage. But with additional coverage and protections, Medicare Advantage offers a level of security that Original Medicare alone does not. It is important, however, to compare plans carefully and to make a choice that suits your medical history, your anticipated needs, and your budget.
Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. Many plans include additional coverage in various areas of health not covered, or barely covered, by Original Medicare, including dental, vision, and hearing.
While Medicare supplement plans do not limit you to using providers in a network, most Medicare Advantage plans are network-based. Some plans allow you to go outside the network, usually at additional cost, but Medicare Advantage is a popular choice among people who plan to depend primarily on network providers in their area. While Medicare supplement premiums are highly affordable, Medicare Advantage premiums are lower, and about half of Medicare Advantage plans are premium-free.
Your opportunities to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan after your Medicare initial enrollment period ends will be limited to future Medicare enrollment periods, so if you are planning to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, the best time to do so is during your initial enrollment period.
The most popular Medicare Advantage plans are Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans. Over 90 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees choose to enroll in HMO or PPO plans.
Call MedicareMall toll-free at 1-877-413-1556 for a free 2014 Medicare Advantage rate quote.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D)
Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) are stand-alone, low-premium drug plans designed to help Medicare beneficiaries keep drug costs within their budget. People enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans which include drug coverage do not need to consider purchasing a separate Part D plan, but for almost anyone else the investment is usually a wise one. Prescription drug costs can be a huge strain on a budget, and PDPs are an excellent, moneysaving solution.
Medicare Part D prescription drug plans pay for prescriptions purchased at pharmacies, and Part D plans help many Americans save money on prescription drugs year after year. Part D plans are an especially wise investment when combined with Medigap coverage.
Call MedicareMall toll-free at 1-877-413-1556 for a free 2014 Part D rate quote.
Some Final Advice:
- Do not enroll in the wrong plan. Choose carefully. Making the wrong choice during your initial enrollment can result in high copays and deductibles, and even penalties when you make changes later on. Enroll in the right plan and you’ll avoid a lot of trouble later on.
- Be sure to compare premiums charged by different companies. Remember, in many cases different insurance companies will charge different premiums for the very same coverage. You’ve got to shop the market—and MedicareMall has been the leader in that regard for over 20 years.
- Don’t delay enrolling in Original Medicare. If you don’t sign up during your initial enrollment period, you’ll have to wait until the following year’s General Enrollment Period lasting from January to March. Such a delay can be costly.
- Don’t wait too long to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan. If you don’t join a Medicare prescription drug plan as soon as you become eligible for Medicare, you may face penalties and limited enrollment opportunities if you want to join later.
If you are turning 65 in 2014, start learning the ropes now so that you’ll be prepared to get the most out Medicare next year and for many years to come. There are some great resources available to tell you more about Medicare. Two of the best are the US government’s official Medicare website and the official US government Medicare handbook, Medicare and You, which provides an excellent overview of the entire Medicare program.
As you prepare for your 65th birthday and your transition to Medicare, MedicareMall is eager to help you make the best choices to save money and ensure you’ve got the coverage that is right for you. Even if you’re still many months away from turning 65, now is the time to start preparing for your transition to Medicare by requesting a free consultation with a MedicareMall enrollment specialist.
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