Turning 65 years old means several things. It’s the legal retirement age, when you become eligible for federal retirement benefits. It’s also the year when you can sign up for Medicare coverage. Unlike what the media would have you believe, Medicare is neither free nor automatic, and it takes great planning to make sure you get the most out of your new coverage. Read our guide on the basics of Medicare planning, how you can choose the right plan, and how an elder law attorney can help.
Understanding Medicare Plans
There are actually four parts to Medicare, each covering different aspects of care. What your plan covers depends on a number of factors, including annual income, work history and health care history. These four parts are:
- Part A: This covers hospice, hospital visits, skilled nursing plans and the like.
- Part B: This is your general health care that covers preventative medicine, doctor’s office visits, outpatient care and some other aspects of healthcare.
- Part C: Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, combines Parts A and B, and may even encompass Part D. This is an all-encompassing coverage requiring a premium ranging from free to $100/month. In 2016, people pay an average of $32.60 for Part C coverage.
- Part D: This part is the Medicare prescription drug program, which carries a premium of anywhere from $15 to $50 each month.
Traditional Medicare vs. Advanced
Traditional Medicare covers parts A, B and D. Medicare Advantage is Part C only. In general, Advantage plans will have lower premiums but act sort of like an HMO, requiring members to seek care through specific networked care providers. A traditional plan, on the other hand, likely costs more but allows recipients to seek care wherever they like.
Those who opt for traditional programs usually add a policy called Medigap, which supplements Medicare, covering what it does not. Between groups like the AARP and private companies there are ten different varieties of Medigap, which can carry wildly varying costs ranging from around $160 to almost $5,700 annually.
The reason many opt for this is that there is no out-of-pocket maximum for Medicare, and this can be a figurative killer for many users as they deal with healthcare issues that come with age.
Choosing the Right Plan
For many users who are younger and in good health, Medicare Advantage can be a great option. However, those who choose to switch to Medicare and Medigap later can find that based on their health record the could be denied coverage or face a hefty premium.
Making the right choice requires a great deal of education and knowledge. Users also sometimes find themselves having to battle for the coverage they feel they are entitled to receive. For these people, an elder law attorney specialized in Medicare can be a saving grace. Such attorneys know exactly how to plan for your future and help you get the coverage you need. If you are reaching age 65 and unsure how to plan for medicare, call Stano Law today for more information and help.