Newly Eligible for Medicare? 5 Reasons Why Your Medicare Decision Is So Crucial
Updated: Apr 26, 2022
Your 65th birthday is coming up soon, and you know you'll have a big healthcare decision to make. You've seen hundreds of ads on television each year about different plans, but you're not sure where to begin, what questions to ask and when you need to act. Well, let's start with timing: if you miss critical deadlines, it will cost you money.
1. Critical timing. It's crucial to make your choices on time. Get the timing wrong, and you could be charged penalties for the rest of your life on premiums for Part A (hospitalization), Part B (medical) and Part D (prescription drugs). To avoid that, watch this video about enrollment deadlines.
Next, let's look at four reasons why you want your Medicare decision to be right.
2. Lifetime consequences. Some decisions are reversible; others are not. For example, picking the wrong plan could mean paying more for healthcare than needed. Why is that important? Because the average American couple will spend $300,000 on medical expenses throughout retirement. That makes it one of the most significant financial decisions you'll make in your lifetime.
3. Quality of life. Your decision affects more than just your wallet. It also affects your health. What you decide at age 65 will influence the quality of your healthcare at age 80, 85 and beyond. But you have no way of knowing today how your health will evolve over those years. So, you want your choice to have either the flexibility or the comprehensive coverage to ensure you can afford the care you need, no matter what.
4. Knowing what's real. The ads you see each year for different Medicare programs are mainly for Medicare Advantage. Offers include monthly premiums of $0. Some insurers even promise to pay your monthly Part B premium. In addition, free dental, vision and fitness have been joined by free meal benefits, drugstore allowances and transportation. But many of the offers are less attractive than they sound – once you read the fine print. And you could end up choosing a low-cost policy that costs you much more in the long run.
5. Travel coverage. And what about travel? Do you visit your grandkids? Or check items off a bucket list? Most Medicare Advantage plans are linked to a local network of doctors and hospitals, so you could find yourself paying full price out of your pocket if you get sick away from home, unless it's an emergency.
So what can you do?
Give yourself time. Start about six months before your 65th birthday, so you have plenty of stress-free time to ask questions and learn.
Learn your options. Find a reliable resource to explain how it all works. (We'll be walking you through each decision here, one step at a time.)
Use your network. Start asking your friends and family and peers all the questions you have and get immediate answers. Ask about their Medicare experiences and get referrals for a qualified insurance broker or expert. (Don't forget to check online broker options and resources, too.) You want someone who knows all about Medicare in your state -- someone who will ask you enough questions to be able to suggest the best plan for you today and when you're 85. And remember, the Wiser Medicare community is here for you.
Mark your calendar. Understand the specific decisions you need to make and the dates by when you need to make them. Follow the calendar. This simple step will save you time, money and hassle.
Have fun. Medicare is a whole new world, but you're not alone. Millions of your peers are discovering it with you – using the tons of resources available to you. And we are here to help.