MEDICARE: A GUIDE FOR SENIORS

Jul 7th, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Important Things to Know About Medicare

As Baby Boomers prepare for their 65th birthday, they need to be thinking about Medicare enrollment and learning about how Medicare works.  This post offers the answer to ‘explain Medicare‘–a query Senior Citizen Journal often receives.  Here are all the important things you need to know about Medicare.

  • Enroll up to three months before you turn 65 if you are not working.  If you are still working, you must enroll within eight months after you stop working in order to avoid penalties.  If you already receive Social Security benefits, you will get a notice about enrollment.  But if not, you won’t receive notice and you won’t be told how to enroll.  So here’s the link for Medicare enrollment. SCJ suggests you put it on your list of favorites.  In addition, you can enroll on the telephone; the telephone number for Medicare enrollment is 1-800-772-1213.  You can also apply for Medicare at your local Social Security office.
  • You cannot be denied Medicare because of poor health or pre-existing conditionsMedicare is a national health insurance program for senior citizens over age 65 and for certain disabled citizens.  It’s been around since 1965, and the majority of seniors who receive Medicare benefits strongly support the program and know they would be in dire straits without it.

  • Medicare isn’t free.   Every senior pays a monthly premium for Medicare.  If you are on Social Security benefits, you can have the premium deducted from your Social Security monthly check.  Most seniors pay it this way.  You can also have it deducted automatically from your checking account.
  • Medicare does not cover everything.  There are four parts to Medicare: Major Medical (hospitalization), Physicians/Labs/Medical Testing, Medicare offered by private insurance companies, and Prescription Drug Coverage.  Seniors have deductibles and co-pays which are out-of-pocket costs.  There is also the doughnut hole (out-of-pocket costs after a certain level of cost has been reached for prescription drugs) which will now disappear by 2020, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  Read the next point for more detail about what Medicare does not cover…
  • You need a supplemental insurance policy to cover most of what Medicare does not coverMediGap policies are offered by private insurance companies to cover a lot of what is beyond Medicare coverage.  You will need to use the online tools to identify the policy that best meets your needs and that you can afford.

Medicare isn’t complicated, but Baby Boomers need to educate themselves prior to enrollment in order to avoid unnecessary problems and possible penalties.



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