Baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, started turning 65 in 2011, and that made them eligible for Medicare. Unfortunately, surveys show many of them still have a lot to learn about the basics of Medicare. Many failed to correctly answer four basic questions about common Medicare myths.
Since health care is one of the biggest costs after retirement, see how you do with this quiz. And, you can get more answers to your questions with our online information about Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap plans.
Medicare Myth #1: Medicare works just like a regular health insurance – 60 percent of participants didn’t know this was false.
Medicare Fact #1: Medicare doesn’t work like the health insurance you’re used to – Medicare Parts A and B have different cost-sharing requirements (deductibles, co-insurance, and co-pays). Part A deals with hospital care, basically. Part B is mainly for doctor services. And, the Part A deductible is not annual, so you could have to meet it more than once per year.
Medicare Myth #2: Medicare is free – 30 percent of participants didn’t know this was false.
Medicare Fact #2: For most people, Part A is free, but everyone pays for Part B – You, or your spouse, probably already paid toward Part A through payroll taxes.
Medicare Myth #3: A person can enroll in Medicare at any time after they turn 65, without a penalty – 77 percent didn’t know this was false.
Medicare Fact #3: You can’t enroll in Medicare at just any time after you’re 65 without paying a penalty – Medicare has a seven-month “Initial Enrollment Period” (IEP) when people first become eligible, either based on disability, or when they “age in” by turning 65. If you don’t sign up during those seven months, you may have to pay higher premiums when you enroll at a later date.
There are certain exceptions. For instance, if you’re still working and are covered by your employer during IEP, you probably won’t get hit with higher premiums.
Medicare Myth #4: Medicare covers everything – 19 percent didn’t know that this was false.
Medicare Fact #4: Medicare doesn’t cover a lot of health care – It has no limit on your annual out-of-pocket costs to meet deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays. Plus, it provides almost no prescription drug coverage, but there are supplemental private insurance plans that help you fill these coverage gaps.
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.