Between all the different Medicare parts and plans available, the details can get confusing. That’s why it is important to do your research. These six quick tips give you the foundation you need to feel confident in your Medicare planning.
- What does Original Medicare cover?
Medicare Part A covers hospital care and some home health care. Medicare Part B is medical insurance that pays for doctor’s visits and outpatient services. Together, Part A and Part B make up what’s called Original Medicare, which is administered by the federal government. If you’ve had a job in the United States, chances are you’ve paid into Original Medicare through taxes taken from your paycheck.
- What isn’t covered by Original Medicare?
Original Medicare is a great starting point, but it doesn’t cover everything. You’ll be on your own for nursing home or assisted living stays that last longer than 100 days and for eyeglasses, contacts, dental care and hearing aids. For the things it does cover, you could still be left with a very large bill.
That's why additional coverage options are available to you from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. A Medicare supplement plan, or Medigap, and prescription drug plan can help protect you against unexpected costs so you can plan your health spending from year to year. You can also take advantage of separate dental and vision plans that give you additional coverage.
- Enrollment deadlines
You have seven months to enroll in Medicare. This time period spans the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your 65th birthday and the three months after your 65th birthday. If you don't sign up during this time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could charge you a penalty in the form of higher premiums for the rest of your life.
- Consider Medicare costs
Premiums and other out-of-pocket costs can add up with Original Medicare. While most people won’t pay a premium for Part A, you will likely have a Part B premium, depending on your income. If you choose to enroll in extra coverage, you may have additional premiums as well, depending on the plan you choose. It’s important to calculate how much you expect to spend on all your health plans so there are no surprises later on.
- The value of Medicare supplement
You already know that Medicare doesn’t cover all your costs. But what matters when you’re looking for a supplemental plan? It’s important to consider important details like the ability to choose your own doctor, quality customer service and premium stability from year to year. Wellmark members know they can count on all these things with their coverage.
- Prescription drug coverage
Drug coverage is another important piece of the Medicare puzzle that can get overlooked. Even if you’re not regularly taking drugs now, you may still want to have coverage in place for when something comes up. Another motivator for signing up for drug coverage right away? Avoiding a costly penalty. The CMS charge a penalty for every month you’re eligible for drug coverage but don’t sign up. You’ll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have drug coverage.
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 to enroll and your medical, dental and vision coverage options.
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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.