With Medicare providing coverage to senior citizens over the age of 65 and people with disabilities, it’s understandable that enrollment mistakes are fairly common. Of course, the elderly and disabled are more likely to need help with the insurance comparison and application process, so it’s easy to see why certain blunders have become commonplace. If you or someone you know is getting ready to enroll in Medicare or participate in Open Enrollment, it’s important to avoid the following four mistakes:
1. Not Thoroughly Comparing Part D Coverage
As you may know, Part D coverage takes care of your prescription medication costs. However, not all drugs are covered and there are often costs involved. There are several different Part D options to consider, and choosing the wrong one will have you paying out-of-pocket unnecessarily. Don’t fall for the common misconception that Part D coverage pays for all medications, as that’s easily one of the costliest mistakes you can make when enrolling for Medicare.
2. Late Enrollment
Enrolling late is another mistake that seems like no big deal, but which can actually increase your cost of coverage significantly the longer you wait because late enrollment penalties are applied. Your Part B premium will increase by 10% for every year that you’re not enrolled after the end of initial enrollment period, which starts about 7 months before your 65th birthday and ends about 3 months after. Also, for every month you’re not enrolled after the initial enrollment period, your Part D coverage will increase by 1% of the current base beneficiary premium, which is $33.19 in 2019. To illustrate why this is one of the costliest Medicare mistakes, here’s an example: waiting just two years to enroll after would increase your part B premium by 20% and increase your part D coverage by about $60-$75.
3. Using Out-of-Network Service Providers with Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage, also sometimes called Part C coverage, is a program that lets you bundle Medicare with other insurance types like dental, vision, and life insurance. Many seniors make the mistake of receiving care from a provider that’s not within the Medicare Advantage network. This is one of the most expensive enrollment mistakes you can make because it could leave you with outstanding medical bills due to the fact that Medicare won’t be able to compensate the medical service provider. It’s easy to assume that everyone accepts Medicare but that’s not the case. Check to make sure your doctor’s office accepts Medicare Advantage just as you would if you had any other insurance plan.
4. Not Researching Part D Plans During Open Enrollment
Open Enrollment is a period lasting from October 15th to December 7th during which you have the ability to change and update your coverage. This might seem unnecessary, which is why many people simply renew without thinking about it, but you could save money on prescription medications by switching your Part D coverage during open enrollment.
Be Thorough Throughout the Process
With Medicare coverage being geared towards the elderly and disabled, you would think that it would be easy to understand and utilize, but that isn’t always the case for everyone. With changes happening regularly and numerous options available, it’s always good to thoroughly check your options before your initial enrollment and during the annual Open Enrollment period.