If you’re approaching 65, you’re probably thinking about Medicare, and you may be feeling overwhelmed.
Fortunately, Everence Financial offers educational webinars and trusted experts who will help you navigate the process and make Medicare an easy step.
Understanding some common Medicare misconceptions can help:
MYTH: There’s no rush to choose a Medicare plan. I can enroll at any time.
FACT: There are only three times that you can enroll in Medicare: when you turn 65, when your employer’s coverage ends, and during the annual enrollment period from January through March. Postponing your initial enrollment until the annual enrollment period means your coverage won’t start until July 1. It typically carries penalties, too. Either way, it could be a costly mistake.
Although you can enroll in Medicare up to three months before you turn 65, it’s best to start your research about six months in advance.
MYTH: Medicare Advantage offers all the coverage of Original Medicare, plus extra benefits, at lower premiums. It must be the best choice.
FACT: While low premiums may hold appeal now, they shouldn’t be your only consideration. Original Medicare includes Part A, which covers hospital costs, and Part B, which covers outpatient costs like doctor visits. Part D, which is an additional option, provides coverage for prescriptions.
While Original Medicare covers many expenses, it doesn’t cover copayments, deductibles or extra benefits like dental or vision. Those who opt for Original Medicare will often choose a supplemental plan to offset some of those out-of-pocket costs.
Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare offered through private insurance companies. They include the same coverage as Parts A and B, often with dental, vision and prescription drug benefits included. Unlike Medicare Supplement plans, they frequently have low premiums.
While Medicare Advantage may seem like an obvious choice at first glance, consider that those lower premiums generally come with higher out-of-pocket expenses. Medicare Supplement plans, on the other hand, have higher monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket expenses. If you’re relatively healthy now, you may find the lower premiums more appealing, but high out-of-pocket expenses could end up costing you far more should you develop health issues in the future.
MYTH: I will have the same providers and the same coverage whether I choose Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Supplement plan.
FACT: Medicare Supplement plans allow you to see any doctor or provider in the U.S. who accepts Medicare, without a referral or preapproval. Medicare Advantage plans offer a network of providers, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities and often require pre-certification for certain procedures. If you opt for a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure your preferred providers are part of the plan’s network and review what the plan covers beyond your local region. Costs often increase for out-of-network providers.
Medicare Advantage plans may also change from year to year, so it’s important to review your benefits coverage and provider network annually.
MYTH: I have a trusted friend who is happy with their Medicare plan, so it’s a good idea for me to choose the same plan.
FACT: Medicare is not a one-size-fits-all program. What’s good for your best friend could be bad for you.
It’s important to base Medicare decisions on your unique situation, rather than what works for others. For instance, if you plan to continue working past 65, it may make more sense to postpone Medicare if coverage and costs are better under your employer’s plan. However, smaller companies can require you to take Medicare as your primary coverage, even if you continue working. If you have a health savings account (HSA), you’ll need to consider that as well.
As a Medicare specialist and Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® with Everence Financial, Bill Parson has been helping people make important health care decisions for nearly three decades. He can help you explore your options and make the decision that’s right for you.
Everence helps individuals, organizations and congregations integrate finances with faith through a national team of financial professionals. Everence offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. For more information, visit everence.com/centralpenn or call 717-394-0769