What Seniors Need To Know About Medicare

Medicare open enrollment period is here. Open enrollment runs from October 15 to December 71. This is the only time of the year that seniors can easily make changes to their Medicare, so it’s important to be aware of these dates. Before you can make any decision around your health insurance, it’s best to research all the different options Medicare can offer and any changes that are coming up.

Take some time to think about what you need from Medicare. Consider your current insurance, health expenses, and the Medicare options to choose between. 

Am I Eligible for Medicare?

Medicare coverage usually begins automatically when you turn 65 – provided you paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years. If you’re younger than 65 but have certain medical conditions or disabilities, you may also be eligible.

Remember that Part A is free, but you will have to pay a monthly premium to cover other parts you choose1. So what are these parts?

The Four Parts Of Medicare

Your coverage is separated into four parts1. Each of these offers unique services. If you’re new to Medicare or making changes to your existing coverage, be sure to evaluate each part. You don’t want to be paying for something you don’t need. 

Part A

Medicare Part A covers care in a hospital. This includes a semi-private room, nursing services, meals, and required medications. Stays in many kinds of hospitals, including critical-access and mental hospitals, are covered by Part A.

You will also be covered for skilled nursing facilities and home care (in certain circumstances). Your home care usually includes physical therapy and medical social services. 

Part B

Medicare Part B is for medical supplies and services needed to treat different conditions. Part B covers ambulance services, outpatient care, preventive services, rehabilitative services and intermittent home health services. Also, if a doctor prescribes you medical equipment, this should also be covered.

If you’re eligible for Medicare Part A, this means you’re also eligible for Part B. If you aren’t eligible for Part A, you may still be eligible for Part B if you meet certain requirements.

However, unlike Part A, you will have to pay a premium for Part B. Usually, this premium will be deducted from your Social Security benefits. 

Part D

Medicare Part D covers prescription medications that aren’t covered under Medicare Parts A and B. It is optional, but you may find Part D helpful, depending on your healthcare needs. 

You can get Medicare Part D through a Medicare Advantage plan that also covers Parts A and B. Alternatively, you can enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan that is unique to your region. 

If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan for Parts A and B, your insurance provider should be able to add Part D to your Medicare Advantage plan during the open enrollment period. 

Part G

The final part on offer is Medicare Part G. Medicare Part G plans are sometimes called Medigap. Medicare Part C and Part F are now only available to those who enrolled to Medicare before January 1, 2020. However, Medigap plans are just the same as these.

Medicare Part G is close to regular health insurance. Instead of paying bills for each healthcare service, Part G has you pay a monthly fee. This is done through private insurance companies. Usually, Part G plans are handled through preferred provider organizations (PPOs) or health maintenance organizations (HMOs). 

If you have a Part G plan, you have the same coverage as the original Medicare Parts A and B, plus some additional coverage.

Changing Your Coverage

Open enrollment gives you the chance to make changes to your coverage. There are a number of changes you can make during this period. 

Through the federal government, you can get Medicare Parts A and B1. Private insurance companies can help you to set up a Part G plan or Medicare supplemental insurance plan. Your private insurance company can help you to leave Medicare or change back to Medicare. Simply speak to your plan’s representative, explain what you wish to do, and they’ll take care of it.

No matter what changes you want to make to your Medicare, the open enrollment period is the time to do it.

Supplemental Insurance Might Be Right For You

Medicare is great, but it won’t cover all of your medical needs. Even with Medicare coverage, you may end up with a hefty medical bill. If you would prefer to have full coverage, a supplemental policy is a great choice1.

A supplemental insurance policy, through a private insurance company, can save you money in the long run, as it will pay for any additional medical expenses. Plus, most supplemental insurance plans cap out-of-pocket expenditures. This means that you won’t have to spend any more money once you’ve reached that cap, so you’ll always know what the maximum amount you’re spending will be.

Important Medicare Enrollment Dates

The Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. This is the time to make changes to your Medicare plan, change to Medicare or leave Medicare.

Don’t worry too much if you miss the open enrollment period. You can leave your Medigap plan and return to original Medicare between January 1 and February 14. You also have until February 14 to sign up for Part D. You can also sign up to Medicare from January 1 to March 31. 

Remember, if you leave it until after the open enrollment period, you may be charged a fee. If you miss this period, you may have to wait another year or pay a penalty, both of which are costly options. So, mark the open enrollment period in your calendar! 

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