Published On: Fri, Dec 2nd, 2016

Medicare 101 – The Essentials You Need to Know

Perhaps the biggest challenge that Seniors face these days, is making sure they correctly apply for their Medicare coverage. It can be a confusing process, with reams of forms to fill in, and  having to locate information sometimes not accessed for decades. These notes detail the process seniors can expect to go through. when applying for their Medicare coverage.

Medicare coverage

1. Get a Head Start Before Your Eligibility

Six months before your eligibility, contact your local Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) office to find out if you qualify, and all of the documentation you will need to get into the Medicare program. Some paperwork may require you locate documents that you have not seen in a while, and some you may have to order from other government agencies. All of this will take time, so being early is definitely the best approach.

2. Apply for Medicare on Time

It is very important that you apply when you first become eligible for Medicare in order to ensure that you avoid penalties. From your first day of eligibility, you need to contact your local office to enroll.  You have a seven month enrollment period to sign up for Parts A and B. This enrollment period starts 3 months before you turn 65, and ends 3 months after you turn 65. If you miss it, your next option to apply for Medicare is during the next general enrollment period that runs from Jan. 1 through March 31 of each year. But, you may incur additional out of pocket costs because of your signing up late.

3. Review of All the Plan Options

Medicare offers several plan options.  Some are free of charge, but others have varying costs and deductibles. The terms and benefits for each of these plans can change, so it is important to stay abreast of what they offer and at what price. Currently they are:

  • Part A which covers things like hospitals and nursing facilities and is free,
  • Part B has a premium and covers doctor visits and tests,
  • Part C is Medicare provided by outside insurers and has a cost component for additional benefits, and
  • Part D for prescription drugs, which may have copays.

Familiarize yourself with all of the parts and determine which ones you need and when you will need them. Also, be ready to add coverage in the event of a change in your health. Insurance experts like  Delos Yancey always recommend that you also explore Supplemental Medicare Insurance which can often cover where Medicare falls short.

4. Use the Free Preventative Care and Tele-health Services

The Medicare program is designed in part to help members avoid health issues before they occur. So there is a robust preventative care service that is free. You get free wellness visits and a complete head to toe check-up for no out-of-pocket costs. Women also receive free mammograms once a year. There is also a range of a Telehealth services that helps members with limited mobility get to doctors or have medical services at their homes or even on-line.