Whether you live in a senior living community or are aging in place at home, you likely have health care costs that Medicare will cover.
“Around the time your grandchildren start planning their Halloween costumes each year, you should begin thinking about your Medicare plan,” says Marcos Gonzalez, Director of Sales at East Ridge at Cutler Bay. “It’s important you revisit your selections during open enrollment and make sure they still meet your needs.”
Medicare open enrollment is from October 15 through December 7.
Here are five essential steps to make the most informed insurance choices for your needs.
1. Familiarize yourself with key Medicare terms.
Most people know Medicare is the federal health insurance program for adults age 65 and older, but there can be confusion when it comes to its different parts.
Medicare Part A and Part B are also known as Original Medicare. Part A is hospital insurance that covers inpatient stays, skilled nursing care, hospice care, and some home health care. Part B is medical insurance that covers some doctor services, outpatient care, preventive services, and medical supplies.
Medicare Part C is also referred to as Medicare Advantage Plans. These private insurance plans are regulated by the federal government. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have Medicare, but you’ll get most of your Part A and Part B coverage from your Medicare Advantage Plan, not Original Medicare.
Medicare Part D refers to the prescription drug plan, which is available for an additional charge.
2. Mark important deadlines on your calendar.
There are three essential deadlines you should be aware of when you’re considering Medicare coverage:
- Initial Enrollment Period is for those who are enrolling in Medicare for the first time. This period begins three months prior to the month you turn 65, includes the month of your birthday, and extends three months after that. Coverage will start on the first of the month after you sign up.
- Open Enrollment Period is for seniors who are already enrolled in Medicare but want to make changes to their coverage. It’s the same time period every year: October 15 to December 7.
- Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment is for those who would like to choose a different Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to Original Medicare. It’s from January 1 to March 31.
3. Review changes made to health insurance plans.
Annually, you’ll want to evaluate whether you have the best coverage for your health needs. Maybe you anticipate a move from independent living to assisted living. Perhaps you’ve been prescribed a new medication or have been advised to seek new treatment. These could all affect your choices.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What changes have been made to Medicare Part D, and what are my anticipated prescription needs?
- Have new negotiations affected the prescription prices at my local pharmacy?
- Are my health care providers and services covered by my current plan?
- Do I expect significant changes to my care that might necessitate a change in coverage?
- Do I want to enroll in Medicare Part C or Part D for expanded coverage?
4. Consider Social Security, retirement accounts and financial assistance.
While Medicare covers many health care costs, there are still significant expenses you have to consider.
Medicare often covers skilled nursing care, certain costs associated with memory support, home health care, and rehabilitation. However, if you’re hoping to move to a retirement community for assisted living, you’ll likely have to pay for most services out of pocket.
Meet with a financial adviser to make a plan to cover your needs. They can assess your retirement accounts, help you collect maximum Social Security benefits, and advise you on how to protect your nest egg.
You might also be eligible to receive financial assistance to cover health care costs. To learn if you qualify for this assistance, refer to medicare.gov, or if you’re a Florida resident, the Florida State Health Insurance Program called SHINE.
5. Sign up for a Medicare Plan.
To enroll, use the Medicare Plan Finder tool on the Medicare website. This will allow you to compare plans available in your region. Take into consideration your unique circumstance, but also note the ratings each plan is given on medicare.gov. These can be helpful guides as you make your selections.
Make East Ridge at Cutler Bay a part of your retirement plan.
East Ridge at Cutler Bay is a Life Plan Community with a full continuum of care. Many of our health services are Medicare-certified. All services are person-centered and delivered in environments that promote high quality of life and choice. Contact us today to learn more about our exceptional senior care.