Signing up for Medicare as you look forward to retirement can be equal parts exciting and frustrating.
The government-funded insurance program helps seniors and retirees save on doctor visits, medication and accident care.
All that paperwork can make for endless nights spent worrying about coverage.
This simple guide can help you spend less time worrying and more time doing all those things you never had time for by answering your Medicare coverage questions.
Your First Medicare Coverage Questions: When Can I Enroll?
Medicare provides a 7-month time-frame to enroll. This starts three months before the month in which you turn 65 and ends three months after.
Medicare also offers a Special Enrollment window for people who are still covered under an employer’s policy. The same 7-month window can open up if you change jobs or otherwise lose coverage.
It’s important to make sure you enroll in this window. Missing out means a large gap in coverage and could cost thousands of dollars in medical expenses.
If you do miss the filing window, you can apply between January and March of the next year. But coverage doesn’t go into effect until July of that year.
What Are my Enrollment Options?
Medicare is made up of parts with several different coverage plans in each part.
Medicare Part A covers hospital visits, certain hospital procedures and treatments as well as nursing and hospice care.
Medicare Part B provides coverage for some things not under Part A. This includes doctor visits and outpatient care like lab tests, medical supplies, and ambulance services.
Medicare Part D, otherwise known as prescription drug coverage, can help seniors cover the high cost of required daily medication.
What About Medicare Advantage?
This plan acts as an alternative to Part A and B by combining several different coverages all into one plan. While a Medicare Advantage plan can save you money by offering more care it also requires patients to use “in-network facilities.”
When thinking about using this type of plan first look at your current doctors and specialists to make sure they are covered or see if the money savings are worth a doctor change.
What Other Ways Can I Save Money on Medicare?
While Medicare covers a percentage of coverage most people pay up to a 20 percent copay for treatment.
One way to lower your out-of-pocket expense is by looking online for drugs and medical devices. When they come from Medicare-covered companies it can save you money on your copay.
These companies can help save you money on dozens of devices including wheelchairs, hospital beds and even something as simple as a back or knee brace covered by Medicare.
Plan Before You Turn 65
The best time to speak with your doctors and medical providers is before you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare. They will be able to make sure your care doesn’t change or direct you to trusted physicians within the Medicare system who can help you.
Your state should also have several State Health Insurance Assistance Program offices.
To answer more of your Medicare coverage questions see the rest of our site.