Millions of seniors get health insurance coverage through Medicare every year, and the more you know about the federal health insurance program, the better equipped you will be to get the most value out of your plan. Here are a few things you need to know about Medicare Plans.
Eligibility for Medicare Starts at 65
Most people are entitled to get Medicare coverage from the age of 65 onwards. You can enroll for Medicare Part A, which covers costs for hospital care, for free, provided either you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for a minimum period of 10 years.
You May Be Penalized if You Sign up Late
Your initial enrollment window for Medicare spans for a total of 7 months – beginning 3 months before your 65th birthday month, your birthday month, and 3 months after your birthday month. Now, if you don’t enroll for Medicare during this period or you go too long without having health insurance coverage, you may have lifelong surcharges on your monthly payments for Part B of Medicare, which covers diagnostics and outpatient services.
People Who Earn More Will Pay More for Part B Coverage
The premium for Medicare Part B changes from one year to the next. But, if your income happens to exceed a certain limit, you may have to pay more for Part B coverage, so you’ll need to plan for this expense accordingly.
You Can Have Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare, but Not Both
Original Medicare includes Parts A and B, and Part D (which offers coverage for prescription medications). As an alternative, however, you can opt for a Medicare Advantage Plan. The latter is offered by private insurance companies and typically provides at least the same amount of coverage as an Original Medicare plan would. But, they usually offer wider coverage. For instance, Original Medicare does not cover the cost of eye exams or dental care, but many Medicare Advantage Plans do that.
You Can Opt for Medicare Before Social Security
Medicare eligibility starts once you hit the age of 65, but you can sign up to receive your Social Security benefits as early as 62 years. That said, you won’t receive your entire monthly benefit until you reach your full retirement age, which could be 66, 67, or anything else, based on which year you were born. But, you are allowed to sign up for Medicare at the age of 65, even if you haven’t signed up for Social Security.