Confused about Medicare? You’re definitely not alone. While Medicare can provide needed health benefits to millions of Americans, understanding who can enroll, what plans are available, and all the other questions leading up to enrollment can be stressful. That’s why having answers, like the ones below, can be a good idea for those thinking about Medicare enrollment.
Who Is Eligible for Medicare?
Most Americans think of Medicare as a healthcare option that helps seniors. While Medicare is a valuable health tool for older Americans, some folks under the age of 65 can benefit from Medicare enrollment as well. Those who are living with qualified disabilities, which include ALS, end-stage renal disease, or medical conditions that qualify for Social Security benefits, can also take advantage of Medicare, although they may be subject to different enrollment periods. Older adults may also be surprised to learn that being eligible for Social Security benefits or retirement does not necessarily make them eligible for Medicare if they are under the age of 65. The only exceptions are made for the disabilities mentioned above, so those who are not yet 65 will need to find healthcare coverage from an alternate source until they meet the age requirements.
What Are the Different Medicare Parts?
Seniors and other eligible individuals should begin researching plan options early. Starting with the four basic parts of Medicare is wise, which include Part A, Part B, Part C (more info about this option can be found below), and Part D. Although each of these parts may seem pretty simple, the restrictions involved can be very confusing for the average applicant. For example, Part A is primarily known as hospital insurance but patients using only Part A or Part B are likely to still pay hefty out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. So, Medigap plans and differences, like F and G, need to be researched as well. For example, Plan F can help with Medicare Part B deductibles while Plan G cannot, and understanding these differences can help enrollees choose plan options that fit their budget and health needs.
Are There Benefits to Medicare Advantage Plans?
For most people, basic Medicare does not provide enough coverage to help with healthcare expenses. This is especially true for seniors since healthcare costs during retirement can top out at $285,000 or more. More importantly, this staggering figure does not even include expenses related to dental care, vision care, non-prescription medications, and long-term care needs. Having this knowledge is important because it allows those eligible for Medicare to research the potential Medicare Advantage benefits. Medicare Advantage is also known as Part C, which is mentioned in the previous section, but these supplemental plans warrant consideration on their own. Potential Medicare recipients need to think about the pros, like added dental and vision care, and the cons, such as higher premiums and more restrictions.
When and How Can People Enroll in Medicare?
Researching and understanding Medicare is the most time-consuming step involved in enrollment. That’s why all too many people don’t review Medicare plans, but those people may be missing out on a lot of new details and benefits that could make a major difference in the cost and quality of their healthcare. Once all of that research is complete, enrolling can be so much easier. Enrollment periods vary depending on a few factors, but generally, people will enroll in Medicare during their Initial or General Enrollment Period. If seniors are still receiving employer-sponsored insurance, they may also be able to take advantage of Special Enrollment Periods in order to change their coverage to a Medicare plan. For those looking to make changes to a current plan, the Open Enrollment Period is the only time to do so. During these enrollment periods, eligible individuals can sign up via a Social Security office to receive in-person assistance or they can enroll online with the official Medicare website.
Medicare is too valuable of a resource for confusion to prevent people from getting the healthcare coverage they need. If you have questions about Medicare enrollment, be sure to keep this guide handy so you don’t have to stress about finding the answers on your own.