If you’re in your early 60s and starting to think about Medicare, there are some factors that you will want to keep in mind as you start planning. I have been an insurance agent here in the Affton area for over 30 years, so I’ve got a fair amount of experience. I’ve seen some changes in Medicare over my career, and in my opinion, there are more changes coming. That’s why I want to give you some advice about Medicare based on my years of experience.
When Should You Apply for Medicare?
The first thing to know is when to sign up for Medicare coverage. You should sign up about three months before your 65th birthday month. There’s no big rush on that, and you can do it any time within those three months. You can sign up online through the Social Security website, or you can go to the Social Security Administration office in person to sign up that way.
Will You Be Able to Afford Medicare Coverage?
For most people, Medicare Part A (which covers hospital stays, nursing facilities, hospice care, and some home health care) has no monthly premium, but this depends on how much you paid in Medicare taxes over your working life.
Medicare Part B is an optional addition that helps you cover medical expenses that Part A does not cover. Before you decide to add this optional coverage, you should be aware that the premium Medicare charges for Part B is dependent upon your income. This means the higher your income, the higher that premium may be.
You can learn more about the costs on Medicare’s official website.
Should You Choose Medicare or Medicare Advantage?
When you sign up for Medicare, you’ll need to make a decision between two worlds for your coverage. Do you want to stay in regular Medicare, or do you want to use a plan called the Medicare Advantage? Both are very good options, and both have pluses and minuses. The biggest plus on the Medicare side is it allows you to go to any doctor basically anywhere throughout the country. So, if you need healthcare in various states or varied locations, that might be a good option.
Otherwise, the Medicare Advantage plans (otherwise known as Medicare HMO plans) are a very good value, and they are going to be part of our future. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, altered our entire healthcare system. It altered how doctors practice, how hospitals operate, and it changed how insurance companies operate in plans. And fortunately or unfortunately, they are directing us towards an HMO model of care in general.
The Medicare Advantage plans mimic HMOs, so I find the Medicare Advantage plans to be a very good option.
Is It Easy to Switch Between Medicare and Medicare Advantage?
You need to be mindful you can’t just switch between these two worlds at your leisure. That’s what a misnomer of “open enrollment” brings. For example, if you are on a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch to regular Medicare, the Medicare Supplement (also known as Medigap) will one day require that you have medical underwriting to get that back.