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Five big Medicare mistakes

Be an expert in enrollment

This article was last updated Oct. 18, 2019.

It's no secret that signing up for Medicare can be a little confusing. But, with a little research, you'll be a Medicare expert in no time. While you're learning about all of your options, make sure you stay clear of these five enrollment mistakes.

  1. Missing your enrollment period.
    You may be surprised by how easy it can be to forget to sign up for Medicare at age 65. If you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits before your 65th birthday, you’ll need to take action to sign up for your Medicare coverage. Luckily, you have a seven-month window to get the job done (three months before your 65th birthday, the month of, and three months after). And, you can sign up online at the Social Security Administration website External Site.
  2. Forgetting to enroll in Part B after leaving your job.
    If you have coverage through your employer, you may not need to sign up for Medicare Part B during your seven-month enrollment window. But, within eight months of leaving your job, you should sign up for Part B or you might have to wait until the next general enrollment period (January through March) for coverage beginning July 1. Don’t get caught without coverage! If you miss the original deadline, you’ll have to pay a 10 percent penalty, which lasts your entire life.
  3. Signing up for Medicare Part A if you’d like to keep contributing to your Health Savings Account (HSA).
    Once you sign up for Medicare, you can no longer contribute to your HSA. So, if you have a high deductible health plan and HSA through your employer or your spouse’s employer, you may want to delay signing up for Part A and Part B, and keep contributing to your HSA.

    Note: If you’ve already signed up for Social Security or if your employer coverage has fewer than 20 employees, you must sign up for Part A.

  4. Choosing a plan that doesn’t include your doctor.
    If you choose to get your coverage through a plan other than Medicare supplement, you may be restricted to the plan’s network of hospitals and doctors. If you see a provider outside the network, you may not have coverage, or you may pay a larger share of the services. Before you choose this type of plan, make sure your doctor is in your plan’s network. Unlike a plan with a more defined network, Wellmark Medicare supplement members can see any doctor they want, as long as the doctor accepts Medicare.
  5. Paying more for a plan than you need to.
    If you buy your Medicare supplement plan within six months of your Medicare Part B effective date, you can get any plan in your state, even if you have a pre-existing medical condition without any health questions. But, if you switch plans after your initial six months, insurance companies are allowed to ask health questions and charge you more for Medicare supplement coverage based on certain health conditions. So, do your research ahead of time, and save.

Need to learn the ins and outs of Medicare? We're here to help.

If you live in Iowa or South Dakota, request your free Medicare Matters guide Opens New Window to learn more about the different parts of Medicare, when you’re eligible and your medical, dental and vision coverage options.

If you live outside Iowa or South Dakota, go to ExternalSite or call 888-630-2583 to find a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan near you.

Rather hear from others like you?

Check out our Medicare Matters video series. We sat down with people who are getting ready for Medicare. Learn with them as our experts listen to their questions and explain the answers!

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This is a solicitation of insurance. Wellmark MedicareBlue Supplement plans are specific to Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and can only be purchased by Iowa and South Dakota residents, respectively. MedicareBlue Supplement plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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