According to Brady Thorup, a manager at Extend Health Benefit Advisor Training and Development, a lot of seniors who are 64 do not realize how important that initial enrollment period can be. At that time, they have more options that can help them maximize the Medicare benefits available.
Your initial enrollment period for Medicare starts three months before the month you turn 65 and lasts for three months after the month of your birthday. That’s a seven-month period you may enroll in Medicare, but unless you enroll before you turn 65, your benefits will be delayed.
During your first open enrollment period, you have a wide range of choices. You can add a Medigap plan to expand on original Medicare benefits. And, you can choose from up to 10 different standardized benefit packages in many states.
You can also get a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan because original Medicare rarely covers medication. That’s true of insulin unless you use a pump. Most people assume injectable insulin would be covered by original Medicare, buy you need a Part D plan for that. And, not all Part D plans cover every medication, but they do cover the majority of prescriptions. Like original Medicare, Part D plans may have out-of-pocket costs, but that varies among plans. These are provided by private insurance companies that can establish different rules within the bounds Medicare permits.
The Medigap plans I mentioned before are also provided by private insurance companies, but Medigap plans have standardized benefits. You
know exactly what you’re getting with one of these plans. That makes it much easier to compare a Medigap Plan F, for instance, from several different companies to get the best deal on the premiums.
You might opt for a Medicare Advantage plan that could offer the benefits of original Medicare and a Part D plan all in one package. These also come from private insurers and have varying rules and regulations.
Before your initial enrollment period, you need to carefully look into:
- How Medicare will cover your health care needs
- What you’ll have to pay for out of your own pocket
- How much your prescriptions cost.
With that knowledge, it’ll be easier to figure out what type of Medicare will pay for more of your health care while saving you money in monthly premiums and reducing out-of-pocket costs.
Jim McFadden has over 11 years of executive-level experience in the health insurance industry, is a youth baseball, softball and football coach, and has one of the worst fantasy football records in the world.