Navigating Medicare To Gain Your Benefits
If you’re an older American who’s retired and living on a fixed income, it may be time for you to begin getting Medicare. In recent years the process of applying and receiving your benefits has been greatly simplified, but you need to take the appropriate steps to make sure you get the coverage and care you need.
1. Apply for Your Benefits When You Become Eligible
When you first become eligible for Medicare, there is a seven month enrollment timeline to sign up for Parts A and B, which begins 3 months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after you turn 65. If you miss this period, 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. However, be aware that you may incur additional out of pocket costs if you sign up late. So get enrolled within the initial seven month period to insure you avoid these extra costs.
You can successfully delay and avoid financial penalties if you are still working and have health coverage through an employer. And if you have Social Security benefits coming to you, then you will most likely be automatically enrolled in Medicare. But always be sure and check that you are covered.
2. Do An Annual Review of All the Plan Options
There are several plan options for Medicare with some being free and others having varying costs. 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 terms. Currently there 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 provided by private insurers, who offer additional benefits, and Part D is for prescription drugs. Get to know them all and decide what you need and when. And be prepared to add coverage in the event of a change in your health. Also there are premiums and deductibles to consider. You may also find you need Medicare Supplement Insurance supplied by companies like State Mutual Insurance Company.
3. Telehealth Services Can Be A Lifesaver
More than 30% of seniors have mobility issues and have trouble physically getting to hospitals and clinics, for the care they need. If there is a need to see a specialist, traveling may be hundreds of miles. Medicare accounts for these situations by bringing medical advice and some level of care directly to patients with its Telehealth services. This program allows seniors to consult with healthcare professionals remotely, using an interactive telecommunications system. Be sure to enroll in this program because it will likely one day save you time and stress.
4. Take Advantage of Free Preventative Care
The Medicare program is designed in part to help members avoid health issues before they occur. So there is a robust no-cost preventative care service. 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 a list of free preventative services available to all Medicare members on the Medicare website.
Seniors face many issues as they get older, but none more important than their healthcare. Educate yourself on Medicare, the healthcare service that will most likely be at the center of your health and well-being.