Turning 65? Here’s The Medicare Rundown
When it comes to health care, 65 is the magic number.
The majority of Americans are eligible for Medicare when they turn 65 years old, as long as they have a Social Security number and have been paying Social Security taxes. Medicare is a federal health insurance program, designed decades ago to help cover the cost of health care as individuals get older.
Brian Krantz, a licensed Medicare Supplement Plan insurance agent, finds many people do not know the fine print of Medicare, which can often lead to individuals spending too much money on health care, and even facing future financial penalties.
Every year there is an annual Open Enrollment period, in which Medicare eligible individuals can switch into or enroll in a new Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Plans. This year, Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15th– December 7th. But it’s important that people compare their options prior to open enrollment, so they have a set plan and know what course of action to take.
In Nassau County alone there are over two dozen Medicare Advantage plans to choose from. And many times individuals will only receive information on one or two plans, so they are not actually comparing their options fully and could be missing out on huge cost savings.
In addition to the Annual Open Enrollment period, individuals can sign up for a Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans three before and three months after the month a person turns 65. Medicare benefits can begin the month a person turns 65.
A delayed registration could result in a penalty down the line with certain parts of Medicare, including medication-related Part D.
MEDICARE PARTS OVERVIEW
There are four key parts to Medicare, each of which cover a specific aspect of health care.
Part A covers hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, nursing home care, hospital and home health services. Part A typically does not require a monthly premium, but there is a yearly deductible.
Part B covers medically necessary and preventive services, like office visits, ambulance services, durable medical equipment, mental health services and hospitalization and clinical research, according to the website.
Part C is a private insurance option, called a Medicare Advantage Plan. This part’s plans are offered through private insurance companies and approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Recipients must be enrolled in parts A or B before enrolling in a Part C plan.
Part C helps cover costs not covered by parts A and B. Medicare recipients are not required to enroll in Part C.
An alternative to a Medicare Advantage Plan, is a Medicare Supplement Plan. This is offered by insurance companies as well, however they do not replace original Medicare, and instead act as a supplement, to help cover the costs not covered by Parts A & B.
Finally, Part D is Medicare’s drug prescription plan. It’s optional to those enrolled in Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, and it’s also offered by private insurance companies and approved by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Those who choose to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan are required to take a Medicare Part D Plan.
The drug plan involves a monthly premium and deductible and includes copayments for drugs. It’s very important for individuals to do an annual review of their Medicare Part D Plans, as formularies change year to year.
WHY USE A LICENSED AGENT?
As mentioned earlier, there are dozens of Medicare options available in New York, and plans vary based on one specific county. It’s very important that individuals have the opportunity to evaluate all of their Medicare options, not just those from a few select companies. Working with an unbiased third party, like Plan Medicare, allows individuals to get a fully painted picture of all of their options. In addition, working with a licensed agent gives individuals access to ongoing customer support, and their services are completely free.
To schedule an appointment with a Medicare agent at Plan Medicare, before or during 2017 Annual Open Enrollment Period, call 516-900-7877.