I was running on autopilot when I signed up at age 65 for Social Security. I visited my local Social Security office to sign up for that and when the nice man behind the plexiglass barrier told me I was signing up for Medicare too, I said “I am? Well sure, why not?”
It turned out to be a good decision. But after I was enrolled in Medicare and then signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan and made other adjustments, I realized that there were things that I could and should have done to prepare for Medicare before I turned age 65. So I had to scramble to make changes.
What should I have done earlier? And what should you do?
Pick a Medicare-Friendly Primary Care Doctor You’ll Want to Stay with for Years and Years
I had a primary care physician I liked pretty well before I signed up for Medicare. But I then realized that I liked a different physician better, one who had treated me years earlier. Would that doctor accept me as a Medicare patient? I called him and yes, he would. Designating him as my primary care provider wasn’t difficult, but it was something I could have done earlier. And that would have reduced the stress of signing up for Medicare.
Line Up Specialists You Will Continue to Use
Think about any specialists or specialist care providers your primary care provider is apt to refer you to. Visit them before you enroll in Medicare, and try to answer these questions:
- Do you like them and are you confident they are good care providers?
- In order for their services to be paid by Medicare, do you need your primary care provider to refer you to them?
- What copays will you have to pay when you visit them?
- Do they provide all the services that your primary care provider is going to want you to receive?
- If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or similar plan, will they accept payment from that plan? Think about the flipside too – are they in the network of care providers your Medicare Advantage or other plan will pay?
Think About the Convenience of the Care Providers You Will Use
I didn’t think enough about this before I enrolled in Medicare. And now I have to commute to a large city to visit two specialists to whom my primary care physician referred me. With a little planning before I signed up for Medicare, I could have avoided that.
Have a Thorough Exam and Evaluation Before You Hit Age 65
This might not be the advice you want to hear. But the earlier you discover various health problems – high blood pressure, diabetes, you name it – the better. Plus, when you discover those ailments, you can line up referrals to specialists and other care providers you will need later on. So don’t hide from potential problems. Avoiding health problems will not make them go away.
Do a Thorough Review of Your Prescription Medications
Talk with your prescribing physicians about the medications you are taking. Ask whether any medications you are taking will soon be available as generics – or for which generics and lower-cost medications are already available. The fact is that some Medicare Part D and other supplemental policies just might not cover a range of expensive “Tier 1” medications. And when you hit Medicare age and your previous employer-provided or other health coverage goes away, certain drugs could suddenly become prohibitively expensive.
Carefully Investigate a Lot of Supplemental Plans (Medigap) and Pick the One that Best Meets Your Needs
CoverRight makes it easy to pick a plan you can afford that meets your needs.
At CoverRight, we’re here to help you find the right Medicare coverage based on your needs. Reach out today and start finding the best Medicare plan for you.
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