Understanding Medicare and all its parts can be extremely overwhelming even if you’ve done all the reading online or have talked to your doctor. You may be feeling stress to find a good plan, especially if you have an existing health condition or disability and are worried about having coverage in the coming years. Many seniors take Parts A and B without doing much research into their options, simply because it’s easier to accept these plans. However, there are many more options that will help pay for dental, hearing, or vision care; prescription medication; or nursing home stays should you require one down the road.
The best way to learn more about Medicare is to visit their site or talk to a professional insurance agent who can walk you through the steps of signing up. However, there are some things you can learn first — before you’re required to sign up — that will help you figure out the best path to take. Advantage plans, for instance, give you access to different types of coverage but are separate from Parts A and B and may require a different set of prerequisites.
Here are a few things to think about when it’s time to sign up for Medicare.
Learn More About Advantage Plans
Advantage plans, such as those provided by private insurers like Humana, are essentially like supplemental coverage, and they can help seniors and individuals with disabilities pay for things like eye exams or medication, which might not be covered ordinarily under the basic plans. You’ll also get access to the SilverSneakers fitness program, which can help seniors stay active and healthy over the course of their lifetime. Read up on these supplemental plans to find out more about how they can help you get the kind of care you need.
Understand What You Qualify For
Medicare is typically associated with seniors and their needs, but it’s also available to individuals with disabilities at any age. However, it’s important to understand what you qualify for so you can get the coverage you need. According to Medicare Consumer Guide, the basic guidelines for receiving Medicare are as follows:
- I am 65 years of age or older.
- I am under 65, but I receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
- I have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
- I have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which is permanent kidney failure that requires a transplant or dialysis.
Know About Deadlines
Understanding Medicare’s deadlines is crucial since you only have a certain window to apply. Generally, the guidelines are that you have three months both before and after your 65th birthday month to sign up; special circumstances may allow you to make changes outside of that time period, but these have to be approved by Medicare. So, get familiar with the deadlines and what the penalties are, and make sure you understand the details, as they can get confusing.
Know the Cost
While Medicare Part A, which covers hospitalization — this comes with no cost as long as you or your spouse have paid taxes for at least 10 years, but Part B — which covers doctor services — comes with a monthly premium that you’ll be responsible for. It’s an important part of your coverage, so you’ll need to learn about the exact cost that will be paid out-of-pocket so you won’t have any nasty surprises down the road.
Understanding Medicare and all its parts and details can be overwhelming, so it’s imperative to ask questions of your doctor or health insurance representative. You’ll also want to ensure your doctor accepts the coverage you have, especially if you make any changes to an existing plan.
*This was a guest post submission to SMART Brain Aging
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