Choosing the right Medicare plan can be an overwhelming task. Missing the enrolment period or committing to the wrong plan for your needs can be a costly mistake.
Time, patience, and some comparison shopping will help you choose the right Medicare package for your needs. Here are five steps to prepare for Medicare.
Know Your Enrolment Period
The first thing to research when preparing for Medicare is your enrolment period. You are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. However, the enrolment period spans from three months before your 65th birthday, to three months after.
The importance of signing up within the initial enrolment period is that you won't be required to provide additional medical information to enroll. You also avoid late enrolment fees or coverage gaps by signing up within the six-month span surrounding your 65th birthday.
If you miss the enrolment period, there is an open enrolment from January 1st to March 31st each year. You can review your plan and change it during the annual enrolment period from October 15th to December 7th.
Evaluate Current and Future Needs
Once you have clarity surrounding the enrolment period, take some time to evaluate your current and future needs. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) covers medical visits and hospital stays. Other common costs, such as prescription drugs, dental, and hearing services, fall under Part C and Part D.
You'll also need to look at the out-of-pocket costs and evaluate how your health is changing. While you may not need as much coverage now, it's worth looking into if any concerns could develop over the next year.
Check Your Network Coverage
One of the challenges with choosing a healthcare plan, particularly when enrolling in Medicare, is understanding the network coverage. If you have a preferred family doctor or specialist, confirm that they accept Medicare before enrolling. Many people find out later that their usual care provider isn't covered, costing them thousands of dollars in unexpected medical costs.
If your current medical providers don't accept Medicare, you'll need to set aside time to find new healthcare providers, pharmacies, etc. This isn't generally a concern for Part A and Part B coverage, but can be when looking at supplemental insurance.
Choose the Best Provider
When choosing supplemental Medicare coverage, it's essential to choose the right provider to fit your needs. There are many supplementary providers to choose from, which can be overwhelming. Health has a comprehensive comparison of the top medicare supplement plans to simplify the process.
Some key considerations to keep in mind when choosing a supplementary insurance provider include:
Consider the Costs
Finally, evaluate the costs that will and won't be covered by your insurance provider. Determine whether a high deductible, low premium or low deductible, high premium plan is better for your situation. Generally speaking, a low deductible is better for people with ongoing health issues who require regular treatments. High deductibles are often better for those in good health, with few annual trips to the doctor.
You can also look into a health savings account (HSA) to set aside money for the out-of-pocket costs. The HSA program is for eligible high-deductible plans and can be used toward Medicare premiums. These funds can be used to pay Medicare directly or as a form of reimbursement if your Medicare premiums are deducted from your social security payments.
Give yourself plenty of time to evaluate your options and determine which coverage strategy is right for your needs. If you make the wrong decision or your needs change, you can alter your plan during the annual enrolment period.