Medicare Mistakes – We see mistakes in Medicare happen all the time. They’re seldom intentional, but they’re always costly. We encourage you to review these seven common mistakes so you can prepare to avoid them!
1. Postpone Medicare Enrollment without Creditable Coverage
There are some situations when enrolling in Medicare at age 65 isn’t the best option. Many people don’t realize that it is possible to delay their Medicare enrollment. However, you don’t want to do so unless you have other creditable coverage in place.
“Creditable” coverage means that the plan offers at least as much coverage as Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Most of the time, someone will have creditable coverage if they are enrolled in an employer’s group health plan and that employer has at least 20 employees.
Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage has its own set of requirements for what constitutes creditable coverage. The same “20-employee” rule does not necessarily apply.
Before you decide to postpone your Medicare enrollment, be sure to check with your Human Resources director or insurance company to ensure your current plan is creditable. Without it, you’ll be required to pay Medicare penalties when you enroll.
2. Ignore Important Enrollment Periods
Forgetting a Medicare enrollment period could cause you to go without insurance and even incur penalties. If you don’t intend to delay Medicare, be sure to mark your calendar about three months before your 65th birthday. Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins at that time end ends three full months after your birthday. If you miss your IEP, you may not be able to enroll until the following year.
The other important date you should add to your calendar is the Annual Enrollment Period, which begins on October 15 every year. From then until December 7, you can review your current Part C (Medicare Advantage) or Part D plans and make changes for the upcoming year. Part C and D plans can make changes from one year to the next, so it’s important to review them to make sure they’ll still offer the coverage you need.
3. Don’t Consider All Options
Beneficiaries have two options to supplement their coverage under Original Medicare: a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan. Both options are available in all zip codes, but some people may have more options than others. The important thing is to make sure you consider the pros and cons of each option so you can decide which one will work best for you.
4. Don’t Shop Insurance Companies
Many insurance companies offer Medicare Supplements, Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D prescription drug plans. In some cases, companies will offer the exact same benefits, as is the case with Medicare Supplement plans. You should compare options from multiple carriers and not just choose one company based on their name.
5. Enroll in Medicare Advantage Just for the Extra Benefits
You’ve probably seen the celebrity-filled TV commercials by now. It’s true that Medicare Advantage plans offer lots of extra benefits, but you should not enroll in one of these plans just for that reason. It’s more important to compare premiums, coverage, and cost-sharing amounts. The medical benefits are much more important than the bells and whistles.
6. Pick the Same Plan as Your Friend
Your healthcare needs are unique, which means your health insurance needs are different than anyone else’s. While your friend, neighbor, or spouse might love their Medicare plan, that doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Take the time to review your plan and consider how it will meet your needs.
7. Never Review Your Plans
We mentioned that you should review your Part C and Part D plans every year during the Annual Enrollment Period. You should also review your other plans, but they aren’t necessarily limited to AEP. For example, you can change your Medicare Supplement plan at any time throughout the year. In most cases, you must pass medical underwriting to change your supplement. If you’re eligible to switch plans, it could save you money on your monthly premiums.
Mistakes happen. Sadly, a Medicare mistake could cost you hundreds of dollars, and you could be faced with having no health insurance coverage. The easiest way to make sure you’re on the right track is by working with an independent insurance agent who specializes in Medicare. Call Carolina Senior Benefits today to speak with one of our experienced agents.