Congratulations! Your eligible for Medicare! Now what? You’ve been looking forward to the benefits afforded by Medicare, but if you are like a lot of people, you are a little apprehensive and are wondering what you need to do.
Rest easy. You will receive information through the mail a few months prior to your effective date. You should actually receive your new Medicare card prior to turning 65.
Your effective date will be the first day of the month that you turn 65. If you have worked at least 40 quarters (10 years) and paid Medicare taxes, you will receive your Part A hospitalization coverage at no charge.
You are automatically enrolled in Part B outpatient coverage and will pay a monthly premium (deducted from your Social security) based on your income. Most people pay the standard Part B premium of $99.90.
Although Part B is optional, you would not be wise to opt out of that valuable coverage. Part B will generally pay 80% of Medicare approved expenses for outpatient procedures. The could range from a primary care visit to costly outpatient surgery.
Being that you are much more likely to use your Part B benefits than your Part A benefits on a regular basis, it would be foolish to believe that avoiding the premium will actually save you money in the long run.
Now that you have your new medicare card and Medicare claim number, the real work begins. Now you have some decisions to make.
Being new to Medicare is a lot like having a target on your back!
Congratulations! You are now a member of a lucrative marketing demographic! Actually, you will start to realize this when you are about 64 1/2 years old. The sales pitches will come fast and furious. Here’s what you can expect:
- Individual insurance agents purchase lists of people about to turn 65. Some old school agents will give you a friendly phone call and some will even drop by to see you.
- You will be inundated with direct mail pieces touting the benefits of various Medicare plans.
- You may be invited to Medicare meetings for people new to Medicare.
All of this marketing will get old real quick! When you are being marketed to you are somewhat on the defensive and you are normally reacting to a well trained individual who has rehearsed his pitch countless times or to slickly crafted brochures where thousands of dollars were spent in testing just to learn what colors get a better response!
Learn the basics
There’s a better way… Take the time to educate yourself to the various types of plans available. Do your own homework. Thank your helpful neighbor or family member for their advice, but recognize that your needs and budget are unique and what may be good for another, may not be good for you.
You can’t make an informed decision from the position of ignorance! You need to learn all you can about Medicare and the various types of Medicare plans. It’s your responsibility.
A good place to start is with the Medicare and You Handbook. If you dedicate yourself to reading just one chapter per day (a few pages) you will have finished the book in a couple weeks.
You can also visit the official Medicare website to get specific information or learn what plans are available in your area. Many people have also had some luck speaking with their local office for the Area Council on Aging.
If you have an insurance agent that you trust, you can rely on them for advice. But be aware that they earn a handsome commission if they steer you to a product. If you do use a local agent, make sure that they represent several insurance companies.
Your best bet is to shop online to learn what’s available and how much the premiums will be for each plan. This way you can learn about your options at your own pace and in a low stress environment. If you take control of the situation, you can eliminate any stress associated withbeing new to Medicare.