1. Ignoring Your Medicare Annual Notice of Change
The Annual Notice of Change is a document sent to Medicare beneficiaries listing any changes in plan coverage, service area or costs that will go into effect the following January. It’s important to take the time to read through this document, as it will give you an idea of what kind of changes you will need when reevaluating your Medicare Plan.
2. Not Considering Prescription Drug Coverage (Medicare Part D)
If you don’t take prescription medications, it might seem as if you wouldn’t need to purchase a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, but failing to sign up for one could lead to a lifetime of late penalties. The only exception to this rule is if you have creditable drug coverage from another source, but the easiest safeguard to avoiding late fees is to choose the Part D plan with the lowest premium and then adjusting your coverage as your medication needs change. Another option, and often the most comprehensive solution, is to consider a Medicare Advantage Plan with built-in prescription drug coverage.
3. Signing Up for the Same Medicare Plan as Your Friends or Spouse
Turning to friends and family who have been through the Medicare Enrollment process is a great place to start, but choosing a specific Medicare plan or coverage based on their needs might not be in your best interest. Everybody’s health is unique, so what works for them might not work the same for you. The pharmacy you use, the medications you take, and the number of times you visit your doctor can all impact your total annual cost. You could potentially find a plan that controls your annual costs and suits your use of healthcare by shopping around and comparing your options.
4. Not Evaluating Your Medicare Plan to Keep the Same Doctors
Some Medicare plans work exclusively with local networks, meaning only healthcare providers within that network are covered. Medicare networks can change at any time, so if keeping the same provider(s) is important to you, it’s crucial to choose a plan that includes your doctor(s) and to reevaluate each year. If you are not tied to specific doctor(s), it’s still beneficial to revisit your plan each year to ensure you’re getting the most affordable rate available to you.
5. Not Being Alert of Medicare Scammers
The unfortunate reality is that Medicare fraud happens every year. Those who choose to dismiss the possibility of Medicare scammers can be the greatest at risk, so it’s important to take the process seriously and protect your personal information. Info such as your Social Security number, bank account details and Medicare ID number should only be shared with authorized individuals and sources that you trust. We not only value your business, but we also value your privacy and follow all HIPAA laws. Learn more about fighting Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov.
Most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65.
You should not have to contact anyone, if you are eligible for automatic enrollment. You should receive a package in the mail three months before your coverage starts with your new Medicare card. If you decide to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up for Parts A and/or B by:
Part B, referred to as medical insurance, is not free. You pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. Part B is the portion of Medicare that more closely resembles what you may think of as traditional health insurance. If you don't sign up for Part B during your IEP, your can sign up without a late enrollment penalty during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you qualify. If you choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B and then decide to do so later and do not qualify for a SEP, your coverage could be delayed and you may have to pay a higher monthly premium for as long as you have Part B.
You can use the Part B SEP while you have job-based insurance, or for eight months after you no longer have job-based insurance (either from your job, your spouse’s job, or sometimes a family member’s job). In order to be eligible for it, you also must have been continuously covered by insurance from current work or by Medicare Part B since becoming eligible for Medicare (including the first month you became Medicare-eligible). If you have had more than eight consecutive months without coverage from either current work or Part B, you are not eligible for the Part B SEP.
If you do not meet the criteria listed above, you are not eligible for the SEP and may have to use the General Enrollment Period (GEP) to enroll in Medicare. GEP takes place January 1 through March 31 of each year. When you enroll during the GEP this means your coverage will start on July 1 and you will have to pay a Part B Late Enrollment Penalty (LEP).
Did you know all "cold calls" or unsolicited marketing calls of Medicare Advantage Plans, prescription drug plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance is prohibited?
Watch out for suspicious calls and marketing strategies during Medicare’s Annual Election Period and never give out your Medicare Number.
Remember, Medicare does NOT have "Official" Sales Reps. Be cautious of any salesperson who says that they are a Medicare representative. Medicare does not send “representatives” to solicit your business.