We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, Medicare is confusing. Which is why we dedicate our lives to helping seniors PREPARE for Medicare before they enroll. Knowledge is power! So with that being said, here is a list of 10 things that you probably don’t know about Medicare, and some of them may surprise you!
- Medicare covers more than just senior citizens. Medicare is designed for the aging population, but under certain circumstances, people under the age of 65 can be enrolled. If you have a qualifying disability or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you can get covered under Medicare.
- Baby boomers are aging into Medicare at a rate of 10,000 per day. Back when Medicare was first designed, people weren’t living nearly as long as they are today. Add that to the baby boomer generation who are rapidly aging into Medicare at a rate of 10,000 people PER DAY, and you can see how Medicare is quickly going to get into trouble.
- Enrollment can happen outside of AEP. There is a common misconception surrounding Medicare that you can’t change your plans unless it’s during the Annual Election Period (AEP) from October 15-December 7. While this is true for Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Prescription Drug Plans (Part D), you can change from Medicare supplement plan to plan anytime you want. There are always “special election periods” and change of status that can warrant a change outside of AEP as well.
- Each part of Medicare covers something different. While the parts of Medicare can be the most confusing part, it’s all for good reason. Each part of Medicare means something different and works differently. Part A is for your hospital care, Part B is for healthcare outside of the hospital such as routine doctors’ visits and preventive care, Part C is Medicare Advantage, and entirely different program from original Medicare altogether, and Part D is the prescription drug plan. Every part works differently to make one whole picture.
- How much Medicare actually pays out. Medicare supplemental insurance was created to fill in the coverage gaps left behind by original Medicare. Did you know that traditional Medicare only covers 80% of the Medicare-APPROVED costs? That means, YOU as the enrollee are responsible for that other 20%. This is where Medicare supplement insurance comes in. It covers your 20% if you keep up with your monthly premiums, and can save you a ton.
- A “non-participating” doctor still takes Medicare. Despite what the status title of “non-participating” doctors suggests, doctors under this status DO accept Medicare. They just don’t accept it at the amount that Medicare pays, meaning these doctors reserve the right to charge the patient additional money on top of what Medicare approves. While it seems confusing, don’t be too alarmed if your doctor becomes a “non-participator”- it just means that they reserve the right to charge you 15% more than Medicare approves. This is typically only found with specialty doctors/treatments.
- Waiting to enroll in Part D can cost you FOR LIFE. Once you’ve reached Medicare enrollment time, you also have to enroll in your Part D drug plan. If you don’t, you have to wait until the following AEP, AND Medicare charges a fee every month for the rest of the time you’re on Medicare (aka, the rest of your LIFE!) While the fee is minor, it can add up depending on your lifespan. 1% of the national average in premiums in what you pay PER month, so 12% per year, lasting forever.
- Medicare doesn’t cover everything. If you’ve been to your doctor for a physical and you WEREN’T charged for it, your doctor didn’t file it properly. Physicals and some other procedures aren’t covered under Medicare. While Medicare paired with a supplement covers almost everything, and mostly the big stuff, it doesn’t cover everything.
- Medicare doesn’t work outside the USA. Getting ready for a big vacation to Europe? Make sure you understand before you go that your traditional Medicare coverage doesn’t apply out of the country. If you have a Medicare supplement, you’re covered. However, traditional Medicare without a supplement or Medicare Advantage does NOT work outside the United States.
- On average, with Medicare you get WAY more than you pay for. While your Medicare premiums and co-pays do add up, compared to the average amount of usage, you are saving a TON. Medicare may not be perfect, but it is still possibly the greatest government healthcare coverage known to us. Take advantage of it by preparing yourself properly with a supplement so you don’t get stuck with huge bills, but rather a predictable monthly premium.
It’s true; Medicare is complex. But it’s one of the best working healthcare systems out there, and if used properly it can save enrollees a ton of money in their health care and keep them healthier, longer.