Oct. 24, 2016| By Selena Maranjian
As you move through life, it’s smart to figure out what your best moves are in order to improve your condition financially and in other ways. It’s also valuable to avoid making boneheaded moves, as they can really set you back. Here are three stupid Medicare moves that many people regret having made.
This is an error simply made and simply avoided: enrolling late. You’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, but don’t assume you can sign up for it at any time after that. If you’re late, your Part B premiums, which cover medical services, but not hospital services, can rise by 10% for each year that you were eligible for Medicare but didn’t enroll.
So when should you enroll? You can sign up anytime within the three months leading up to your 65th birthday, during the month of your birthday, or within the three months that follow. If you fail to enroll during these seven months, you can enroll during the “general enrollment period,” which is from January 1 through March 31 of each year. (If you’re still working and have employer-provided healthcare coverage at age 65, or are serving as a volunteer abroad, you can delay enrolling in Medicare without penalty.)
Fortunately, many people avoid this penalty because if they’re already receiving Social Security benefits during their enrollment period, they will likely be automatically be enrolled. That’s a good safety net, but don’t assume that you’re taken care of without checking.
Picking coverage that doesn’t suit you best
Another mistake is just signing up for Part A and Part B without giving your decision much thought. After all, there is another option: a Medicare Advantage plan.
“Original” Medicare, the form of the coverage familiar to most people, consists of Part A, Part B, and very often Part D. Part A covers inpatient hospital care (such as surgery), as well as care provided by skilled nursing facilities, hospice, and some home health-care providers. It also covers some lab test and doctor visits. Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. More specifically, it covers “medically necessary” services needed to diagnose or treat you, as well as preventive and early detection services such as certain vaccines and screenings. It also covers durable medical equipment (such as blood sugar monitors and home oxygen equipment), mental-healthcare, and limited prescription drugs. Part D offers broader prescription-drug coverage. There are also “Medigap” plans available, to supplement coverage.
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