Retirement and Medicare go hand-in-hand for most Americans. Medicare can be essential during retirement; however, Medicare can be confusing as many do not understand how it will work or what it will cost. Medicare doesn’t have to be this overwhelming burden you take on – it’s actually a lot simpler to understand and manageable when you’re armed with the correct information.
At Thomas & Associates, our certified agent brokers can help you through the Medicare process. For this article, we wanted to share with you some ways in which you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.
- Understand the Medicare Options Available – Get to know Medicare. Research it. Learn what the different types offer. The more you know, the more money and time you will save later on.
- Original Medicare – has two types of coverage, Part A (hospital) and Part B coverage (medical). If you elect to have Medicare as your primary insurance, your claims are approved and paid directly by CMS (Center of Medicare – Medicaid Services), a federal government entitlement program. Medicare Part A covers your hospital expenses like hospitalization and skilled nursing expenses. Most people who have worked 10 years the United States qualify for premium-free Part A coverage. Medicare Part B coverage is for outpatient medical services, like physician services, medical equipment, and diagnostic services. Most Americans typically pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B of $135.50 in 2019. Individuals with Medicare as primary can use any provider that accepts Medicare patients. Medicare pays 80% towards your A & B expenses. There is no prescription drug coverage associated with Original Medicare, but Part D plans can be added as a separate insurance contract offered through private insurance companies and regulated by Medicare.
- Medigap Plans (Medicare Supplements) – These plans help fill in the gaps of Original Medicare A & B and what you have to pay out-of-pocket (the remaining 20% of Part A & B expenses and deductibles associated with original Medicare). Medigap plans are offered from private insurance companies, standardized and regulated the States and by Medicare. Despite the company, all Medigap plans are the same, as an example, a Medicare Supplement Plan F with one carrier will have the same benefits offered by a competing carrier. The only difference is what each company charges for the monthly premium.
- Medicare Advantage – Medicare Advantage (Part C plans) are an alternative insurance solution, separate from Original Medicare and Medigap. It is a private insurance plan offered by insurance companies (not the government). Part C plans replace original Medicare as your primary insurance. Part C plans are “all in one” contracts that include your Hospital, Medical, and Prescription Coverage all under one contract. If you elect a Part C plan claims are approved and paid by your insurance company, not original Medicare. Some Part C plans may include additional benefits like dental and vision coverage not covered typically by original Medicare.
- Know Medicare isn’t Free – Medicare comes with premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses. The Medicare Supplement plan can help cover out-of-pocket costs.
- Get Familiar with What the Policies Cover – You should know every detail of your coverage and what you get and what is offered. If you work with an agent at Thomas & Associates, we can tell you what the plan covers for you.
- Know the Enrollment Dates – You need to know when you should sign up for Medicare. If you miss the window, there are penalties for life. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is a 7-month window around your 65th birthday. The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is a one-time, 6-month window where you can choose any Medicare Supplement plan. This window starts on your Part B effective date. The General Enrollment Period is for people who missed the initial enrollment into Medicare Parts A and B – it occurs from January 1 to March 31. The Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15 to December 7 and it’s when you can change your Part D or Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Use the Preventative Care Benefits – In your first 12 months on Medicare, you get a free appointment where you meet your doctor, as well as free preventative services and vaccinations including mammograms, bone density scans, cervical cancer screenings, the flu shot, a shot for Hepatitis B, and more.
- Plan for Healthcare Costs – There will always be costs, even with Medicare, so it’s better to be prepared for unexpected medical bills for services and treatments. Life happens. You will get sick and need medical help and a bill will follow. Our agents can help you decide what plan is better for you financially.
- Don’t Overpay for Prescriptions – Our team can help you figure out how to enroll in the Part D plan so you’re paying what you should be. Opt for generic prescriptions, if possible. Change to covered drugs on the plan, if possible. Go to cheaper pharmacies (not all price the same).
Applying for Medicare in Florida
Don’t get overwhelmed with researching and figuring out Medicare. Medicare isn’t as daunting of a thing to go through as it seem, especially when working with one of our agents at Thomas & Associates.
At Thomas & Associates, we have years of experience helping people find and apply for the right Medicare insurance plan. We will help you choose a plan that covers the services you need and let you know how and when you are eligible. Our certified agent brokers at Thomas & Associates insurance agency in Jacksonville, Florida, will help you select a Medicare insurance plan that is best suited to medical needs and finances.