Turning 65 is a big milestone. There is a lot to know about enrolling in Medicare before and after you hit that age, and also a lot to do.
What do you need to know and what do you need to keep in mind? Here are three tips from the Medicare experts at CoverRight.
Tip One: Don’t Miss Your Seven-Month Initial Enrollment Period
If you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time when you turn 65 and you want to avoid late enrollment penalties for Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D drug coverage, be sure to sign up during your Initial Enrollment period (IEP), a seven-month window that includes the three months before you turn 65, the month in which you turn 65, and the three months that follow.
Those late enrollment penalties can vary, depending on whether you are signing up for Medicare Part B or Part D, but remember that if you do incur penalties, you will be required to continue paying them forever. CoverRight can help you make sure you enroll at the right time and avoid those penalties.
Tip Two: Shop for New Plans Every Year
Even though you chose a plan when you turned 65, you should still review your choices every year. The Medicare market is getting so big now and new plans are being introduced every year. Many of them have excellent new features that many people are not aware of, but which can be very beneficial. So you should shop around every year and be aware of new Medicare plans that are available to you. Even if you plan to keep your medical coverage the same, you should reevaluate your prescription drug coverage every year to make sure you’re getting the best coverage for your medications. Drug prices, drug tiers, and coverage areas change all of which might impact your out-of-pocket costs or coverages.
Remember that any plan you enroll in runs from January through December of the year you are enrolled. Also, remember that Medicare plans don’t automatically cancel your coverage if you fail to enroll. They roll your coverage over to the following year, and you might not know that has happened. But you have the option to either re-enroll, or to enroll in a different plan during the Annual Enrollment Period every year. The Annual Enrollment Period occurs from October through December. The plan you choose during that period becomes effective on January 1st of the following year.
Tip Three: Take a Close Look at Predictable Health Care Costs You Will Pay in the Year You Are Enrolled
When you’re turning 65 and comparing plans that are available, you should look at what your costs will be across the full year when you are enrolled.
You might be trying to save money by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan that has a zero-dollar premium and low physician copays. But even so, you should consider other predictable health care costs you will have to pay during the year you are enrolled. They start to add up. You might have a hospital visit for a joint replacement for example, or some lab tests, or minor surgery as an outpatient. When you consider those anticipatable costs, you might decide you will be better off buying a Medicare Supplement Policy. Even though you might have to pay a monthly premium, overall your costs through the year could be lower.
Even though none of us can predict unexpected or emergency care we might need in the future, do consider upcoming care that you already know about – that operation you know you will need, for example. So take out a paper and pencil and add the figures up, compare them to the costs of a plan you could buy, and make a choice that will save you money.