Medicare was created more than half a century ago and it has become an invaluable program that today provides high quality health care at reasonable prices to its approximately 55 million beneficiaries, a group comprising 45 million older and 10 million disabled Americans.
Since Medicare has come a long way it has become complicated, with a bewildering number of programs and a seemingly infinite number of rules. Many people struggle to make Medicare decisions and, once they’ve selected one set of Medicare plans, often are reluctant to change their mind even if better choices present themselves.
Medicare becomes simple if few guidelines are taken into considerations and followed which can help you navigate the program and achieve the best possible care at the least possible price.
Medicare has several enrollment periods. You need to use the right one. For example, many people think they turn 65. But they don’t need to sign up so long as they are working and have a group health plan from their employer. They can enroll when their employment is about to end. There are special enrollments periods that apply to people in other circumstances, such as losing a job, getting a divorce or experiencing another life changing event.
There also is a general enrollment period and, as noted below, an open enrollment period. Make Google your friend, Search terms “open enrollment,” “general enrollment” and “special enrollment” and understand what they mean and if they apply to you. There can be lifetime financial penalties that can boost premiums by 10 percent or more each year you’re late in enrolling in Medicare on a timely basis. Worse failing to enroll properly could leave you with no health coverage and thus unprepared should you need costly care.
There are two main paths here. One is Original Medicare (Parts A and B), perhaps with a Medigap supplemental policy, plus a Part D prescription drug plan. The other is a Medicare Advantage plan, usually including a Part D plan. Each path has its pluses and minuses. What’s right for you might not be right for your spouse. That’s another surprise for couples who have been covered on a family plan through the workplace. There is no Medicare family plan. Every person must have his or her own Medicare insurance.
To get best coverage you should understand various parts of Medicare cover and how to use them. If you have any doubts talk to your Health care providers or Health insurance agent.
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