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Active Senior Living February 25, 2015

Medicare Tips for Seniors: Where to Start.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably about to become eligible for Medicare. Congratulations! You may have heard stories about how challenging it can be to enroll, how complicated the system is and how there are gaps in coverage. But, enrolling in Medicare does not have to be difficult or intimidating. With enough time to educate yourself, you can become well-informed enough to tackle your first Medicare enrollment period with ease. Below are some useful Medicare tips for seniors to help with this milestone.

Know when to enroll:

Most Americans qualify for Medicare when they turn 65. However, there are many exceptions to this rule. We recommend doing your research to determine your individual eligibility. Medicare has a handy calculator that will help you determine when you become eligible and can even help you calculate your premiums. But, be aware, Medicare is not going to remind you that it’s time to sign up. It’s your responsibility.

Understand the coverage that’s available:

Medicare offers four choices for coverage. Parts A, B, C and D. Medicare Part A is hospital insurance, it covers inpatient stays, skilled nursing and hospice care if you need it as you age.

Part B is like typical medical insurance. It covers most doctor’s visits, outpatient medical care, supplies like a walker or a CPAP machine, and preventive care. Medicare Part B is important because the services provided help keep you well.

Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage Plans) is administrated by health insurance companies rather than Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans also offer prescription drug coverage (which is offered separately through Medicare Part D.)

Medicare Part D is the prescription drug coverage offered by Medicare. You should pick your coverage based on the medications you’re currently taking and how frequently you take them. The coverage you select will be based on those two factors and could differ between you and your spouse. You can find out which plans cover your prescriptions using the Medicare plan finder tool.

Some people also choose to buy a supplemental plan called “Medigap.” Supplemental insurance coverage will pay some of the costs that Medicare does not cover, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. But, be aware, supplemental insurance does not work with Medicare Advantage Plans.

Be aware of the costs:

There are costs associated with all of the available Medicare coverage options. But, they depend on your individual situation.

Medicare Part A does not come with a premium, provided that you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working. If that is not the case, the premiums range in the $400 to $425/month.

Most people can expect their Part B premium to be between $105 and $150 a month, depending on the options that they choose and their income levels. For most individuals, the amount is deducted directly from their Social Security benefit check. It is important to realize, however, that there is a late enrollment penalty that can cause monthly costs to be higher if you do not sign up immediately when you become eligible.

The costs for Advantage Plans vary depending on the provider, the individual and the level of coverage selected. Your best bet will be to search for a plan in your area, and select the options that will work best for your situation.

Find additional resources:

There are many websites offering reliable Medicare tips for seniors. AARP and Medicare.gov are both good places to start.


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