When you reach the age of 65, you are automatically eligible for Medicare. But the popular belief is that it is free, which is wrong, and you have to know the nitty-gritties of the process before you actually sign up. It can be insanely expensive if you don’t.
Even if you’ve been on Medicare for a long time, re-evaluating your options yearly will make sure you still have the right plan. Yearly, you can switch plans when you want to, from October 15 through December 7.
If you have a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, it becomes particularly important to go through your options yearly, considering that these two policies change features features from time to time, such as deductibles, copay amounts, covered drugs and the rest.
Medicare plans are split into the following categories:
Part A (Hospital Care, Skilled Nursing, Hospice and Some Home Health Care)
If you have a minimum Social Security work history of 10 years, you pay nothing for this, and your premium amoutn will be determined by your Social Security work credits.
Part B (Doctor Visits, Preventive Care, Outpatient Care And Hospitals, And Some Home Health Care)
For 2018, this will be around $134 a month for majority of Medicare beneficiaries who earn $85,000 or less yearly ($170,000 for couples), and a maximum of $428.60 for those whose annual earnings surpass the $214,000 ($428,000 for a couple) mark. If you’re like most people, you will probably need a Medigap plan on top of Parts A & B.
Part C – Medical Advantage Plan
There are companies in agreement with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits, with some plans also offering coverage under Part D. The plan and the region dictate the premiums, but the Medical Advantage average in 2018 is $30, which is 6% less than that in 2017.
Part D – Prescription Drugs
The average premium in 2018 is $33.50, lower than the $34.70 average in 2017.
The first crucial decision Medicare beneficiaries have to make is whether they should chose traditional coverage (Parts A, B, and D) or a Medical Advantage plan (Part C). Medical Advantage plans have small to no premiums at all, but members usually have to limit themselves to certain hospitals and physicians. These two options have deductibles, copoays and coinsurance, which requires you to shoulder a part of the bill.
If you go with traditional Medicare, you can simply get a Medicap policy, which is a supplemental policy that provides benefits outside of Medicare. There are 10 types of Medicap policies offered by private companies or groups, and the costs vary significantly. You’d like to review each plan as thoroughly as possible in order to make the smartest choice.