Mistakes Boomers Make When Enrolling in Medicare
Medicare Matters is designed to help seniors make smart choices; also
offers help on Open Enrollment
Oct. 16, 2014 –
Signing up for Medicare probably presents more options than most Baby
Boomers assume before they reach age 65. With hundreds of policies to
choose from, and so much information to understand, many seniors guess
when choosing a policy and end up paying too much for a plan that
doesn't cover what they need, according to the National Council on Aging
(NCOA), which created a website to help senior citizens.
My Medicare Matters, which “provides a clear and friendly guide to
help boomers evaluate their individual needs, compare their options,
enroll in a plan, and sustain the best coverage for years to come.”
The website has
a wealth of information for those making their original choices in
Medicare, but much of it may also be helpful to those considering
changes during the current Medicare Open Enrollment that began yesterday
and extends through December 7. More about Open Enrollment is also
available at the
NCOA says it has
worked to improve the health and economic security of older adults
through education and decision support for more than 60 years,
typically spend most of their life with health care more or less handled
for them by an employer," said James Firman, NCOA President and CEO.
your challenge is to translate the kaleidoscope of Medicare options into
coverage that works for you. My Medicare Matters is a reliable resource
to help boomers choose a plan that best meets their needs."
Here are the
five biggest mistakes boomers should watch out for when enrolling in
Signing up too early or too late for Medicare and its parts.
If you are aging
your initial enrollment period is based on your 65th
birthday. To avoid long-term penalties, make sure you know what you have
to choose—and by when. If you or your spouse are still
working when you turn 65 and your insurance meets certain
requirements, it may make sense for you to delay enrollment in Parts A,
B, and D. Find the rules
MyMedicareMatters.org, you can take a free, confidential
Medicare QuickCheck™ and receive a personal report with your initial
enrollment period, or special enrollment period if you or your spouse
are still working, and recommendations about when you should sign up for
which parts of Medicare.
Mistake 2: Not
understanding the difference between a Medicare Supplement and a
Medicare Advantage policy
If you are new
to Medicare, you have a fundamental choice to make: enroll in original
Medicare or opt into a Medicare Advantage plan. It is very important
that you understand the pros and cons of both types of coverage.
Medicare is a fee-for-service program. Most consumers supplement the
government benefit with a private Medicare Supplement (also called
Medigap) policy as well as a Part D plan for their prescription drugs.
Medicare Supplement policy may cover some services that are not
included under the standard
Medicare Parts A and B as well as some out-of-pocket costs such as
co-insurance costs for care at skilled nursing facilities, the Part A
deductible, and foreign travel emergency care. If you choose a Medicare
Supplement policy, you will pay an additional monthly premium. You won't
need prior authorization to use specialists or to get second opinions.
Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), on the other hand, takes the place
of original Medicare Parts A and B. These plans work more like group
insurance. They are sold through approved, licensed insurance companies
and may have an additional monthly premium.
Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage as well as services
that original Medicare does not such as health/wellness programs and
vision care. However, a Medicare Advantage plan may also limit a
person's ability to use doctors and hospitals, and also require prior
authorization to use specialty services.
enrollment, you have the option of changing from one type of plan to
another if your needs have changed.
Guessing when picking specific plans
It can be very
difficult and time-consuming to compare all of the plans that are
available to you. Many people try to do their homework, get frustrated,
and then "give up and guess." Choosing a Medicare plan is too important
to leave to guesswork. Take the time to review your health insurance
needs before your first—and every subsequent—enrollment period. Think
● Do you have
health insurance from another source?
● Do you have
any chronic conditions?
doctors and hospitals do you use?
prescriptions do you need and what pharmacies do you get them from?
You don't have
to do this on your own. You can get help from a trusted source that can
help you think through your options and compare plans. If you're unsure
about your choices, start with a
Medicare QuickCheckTM to get a personalized report on
your options and use that to start a conversation with a licensed
Mistake 4: Not
applying for extra help
older adults are eligible for billions of dollars in programs that can
help them pay for their prescriptions and health insurance premiums,
deductibles, and coinsurance. If your income in retirement is modest,
you should find out if you qualify for assistance. NCOA also offers a
BenefitsCheckUp where you can see if you're eligible and apply
Extra Help or Medicare Savings Programs. Or, contact your
State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to see what's
available to you.
Mistake 5: Not
re-evaluating your coverage every year
choosing health insurance is no longer a one-time decision for most
Medicare beneficiaries. Insurance companies can make changes to policies
every year. Just because your doctor and medications are covered this
year doesn't automatically mean they will be covered in the coming year.
Research studies show that the average consumer could save $300 or more
annually if they review their Part D coverage. Make sure to confirm
cost, copays, coinsurance, covered providers, and prescription drugs.
Here are a few things to consider:
● Has your
health changed in the last year?
● Is your
current plan still meeting all of your health needs?
● How much
have you paid out-of-pocket in the last year—and for what?
● How is your
plan changing for the coming year? How will that affect your
Are there better
options available to you now?
Matters is built on a strategic partnership between NCOA and Aon Retiree
Health Exchange,TM Aon Hewitt's comprehensive Medicare
marketplace. Combining the experience and knowledge of the NCOA and the
guidance of a licensed Aon benefits advisor, My Medicare Matters
provides a trusted, online resource for Medicare assistance.
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