As we age, our needs change, especially when it comes to healthcare. By the time we become seniors, age-related illness becomes a very real issue, and income tends to decrease. On the plus side, the focus is on self-care rather than caring for a family.
Medicare health coverage is meant to alleviate healthcare related costs for those 65 years of age and older. However, the enrollment process can be confusing. There are a lot of variables and considerations to keep in mind when signing up. Here are five helpful tips for seniors trying to navigate Medicare to receive the care and coverage they deserve.
Plan Ahead of the Enrollment Period
The enrollment period for Medicare can be confusing, as there are multiple enrollment periods meant for various groups. If you’re trying to figure out how to enroll in medicare initially, you’ll fall under the category of “initial enrollment,” which takes place for three months leading up to your 65th birthday and three months following. The perceived benefit of signing up during the initial enrollment is not having to answer medical questions to do so.
While there are other enrollment periods after, it’s best to plan ahead. Take time to research the options before the enrollment period starts. If you already receive Social Security benefits, you don’t have to take any action; you’ll be enrolled automatically.
Understand the Plans
One of the most challenging aspects of enrolling in Medicare is understanding the various plans, which include Plans A, B, C, and D. Plan A and Plan B are considered the essentials, covering medical costs when ill, such as hospital stays, and preventative medical costs, such as annual wellness visits, respectively.
Plan C and Plan D are considered additional or supplemental coverage options. Plan C combines the offerings of A and B in a way that emulates private coverage. Plan D is meant to assist with covering the costs of prescription medication, which can be significant as we age.
It’s important to understand what each plan offers and what it doesn’t before enrolling, which is why starting to research early is critical. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for help with the research process.
Know Your Doctor’s Policy
If you have a doctor with whom you’re comfortable, it’s important to determine whether or not they accept Medicare. If they don’t, you’ll be tasked with finding a new doctor, which can add months to the decision process. For some, that’s the deciding factor in choosing not to enroll in Medicare. If you’re considering Medicare, talk to your doctor well in advance of the enrollment period.
List Your Important Questions
While you research, take note of your questions that you need to ask Medicare directly. It can be challenging to get through and get your questions answered, so having a list can help you keep track of everything in a constructive way. Try to schedule your call during midweek at midday, as mornings are the busiest times. There are a lot of helpful online resources to review before calling to get your questions answered.
The earlier you start with the research process, the less stress you will experience. As stress can be detrimental to your health, worrying about Medicare is counterproductive.
Remember, if you don’t like the plan you have, you can change it during the general enrolment period. If you have special considerations– such as moving or losing health coverage– you’ll be able to use a special enrollment period.
Remember to review your plan each year and determine if it’s still adequate based on your personal requirements. By being proactive and taking the time to learn about the various options, you’ll be able to determine whether or not Medicare is right for you and choose the plan that fits best.