7 Things You Need to Know About Medicare in 2018

You were born in 1953, you are turning 65 this year.  Don’t wait until the eve of your 65th birthday to start thinking about Medicare coverage though.  Becoming eligible is a relief for many people with high deductible and skyrocketing premiums; however signing up for a Medicare plan is a complex process.  For an easy transition you should learn the following facts before you sign up for coverage.  If you’re already on Medicare, make sure you review these facts.  Here are 7 Things You Need to Know About Medicare in 2018.

  1. You are NOT Alone

Currently more than 10,000 people are turning 65 everyday in the United States.  With that many people needing help to enroll there is help every where.  First, you will get the official guidebook from Medicare called “Medicare and You“.  Everyone receives this book that covers everything you need to know about Medicare.  Keep in mind it is 138 pages long.

Another option is your local SHIP office.  SHIP stands for State Health Insurance Assistance Program.  This is a federally funded, no-cost option that provides people with counseling with Medicare.

Lastly, you could use a licensed and local independent insurance agent, like Healthy Colorado Insurance.  Using one of these agents allows you to have a local agent who knows the area, has a state issued license to sell insurance and being independent… they work for themselves and not to one particular insurance company.  

checkmark Healthy Tip: These independent agents cost you nothing, the insurance company compensate the agent for their work not you.

 

2.  The Alphabet Soup

Medicare in 2018 is so confusing, even the Alphabet wont make sense to you.  The Alphabet soup relates to the 4 separate parts of Medicare and these you really need to understand.

Original Medicare

Understanding which Parts you need is confusing.  Make sure you research each one and understand the limitations, requirements, and any penalties associated when/if you don’t have them.

3. Medicare in 2018 is not Free

The common perception is once you enroll into Medicare there are no more costs for your care.  That is simply not true.  There are still premiums you must pay every month, and cost related to your care.  Some plans limit those costs more than others so be sure you know your monthly budget and are aware of how your plan(s) cover you.

checkmark Healthy Tip: Original Medicare does not have a Max Out of Pocket benefit; meaning if left uncovered you could have serious out-of-pocket expenses.

4. Medicare in 2018 doesn’t cover everything

One if the most common misunderstandings about Medicare is it is an all-encompassing plan.  That is not true.  There are many benefits Original Medicare does not cover.  These include:

  • Long-term care (also called custodial care)
  • Most dental care, as well as dentures
  • Eye examinations related to prescribing glasses
  • Hearing aids and exams for fitting them
  • Routine foot care
  • Acupuncture
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • World-Wide Emergency Coverage

checkmark Healthy Tip: Several of these benefits are covered by your Medicare Advantage plans such as World-Wide emergencies, some dental coverage, Eye and Hearing coverage.  See you plan or talk to your agent for details.

5. You might want to get a Medicare Supplement or Medigap

When you enroll into Ordinal Medicare (Parts A and B), you might want to consider additional coverage with a Medicare Supplement.  These standardized insurance plans help fill in the gaps left in Medicare.  These gaps are out-of-pocket costs you are responsible for such as deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance.  These plans are not cheap, costing upwards of $140 a month at age 65 but the limit your medical costs at the same time.

to learn more about Medicare Supplements check out our section dedicated to these types of insurance plans by clicking here.

Medicare in 2018 Part D Penalty

6. Watch out for the Part D Penalty

If you think it makes sense to pass on a Medicare Part D Drug Plan as a way to save money because you do not take prescriptions think again.  Even though Part D is not required, it is heavily encouraged.  If you choose to pass on coverage it can cost you. Medicare calls it the “Part D late enrollment penalty.”  You may owe this penalty if you go without prescription drug coverage for any continuous period of 63 days or more after your initial enrollment period, which is when you’re first eligible to sign up for Medicare.

part_d_penalties

This is NOT a one-time fee.  This fee is a monthly charge for the rest of your life.  To learn more about this penalty, including how you can avoid it, visit Medicare.gov’s “Part D late enrollment penalty” page.

checkmark Healthy Tip: You can avoid this fee if you have another form of Credible Drug Coverage (i.e. Tricare, Federal Employee Benefits, or some other type of drug coverage).  Talk to your agent to see if you qualify.

Medicare Card

7.  Protect your Identity

When you receive your Red, White, and Blue Medicare Card your Medicare Claim Number, in most cases,  is in fact your Social Security number.  The Medicare blog explains:

“In fact, thieves consider your Medicare number and other protected health information more valuable than credit card information because people can reuse them to bill Medicare for services that you didn’t get. When people steal your identity and bill Medicare for items or services you didn’t get, it drives up costs for everyone.”

checkmark Healthy Tip:  Medicare Advantage insurance cards do not use your Social Security Number as their member ID number.

However, starting April 2018 running until April 2019, Medicare will work to correct this issue.  Beneficiaries will begin receiving new unique ID numbers as part of an effort to prevent identity theft. You’ll still need to safeguard the new number, though.  Below is what your new Medicare Card will look like:

New Red, White, and Blue Medicare Card

In conclusion

Signing up for Medicare in 2018 is difficult, especially if you go it alone.  You do not have to.  There are many tools out there to help you make the transition as Simple as possible.  We at Healthy Colorado Insurance work hard to Provide Simple Solutions to your Medicare insurance Needs.  If it isn’t Simple people are less likely to understand what they have.  Let us assist you this year or we can review your current Medicare plans to see if you need to make a change.  Contact us today here.

Leave a Reply