6 Things to Know for a Head Start in Medicare Enrollment
Is your 65th birthday looming? Is your mailbox still visible under the flood of flyers advertising Medicare health plans that you must join?

Are you feeling daunted by thoughts of choosing the right Medicare plan that will meet all your needs?

Or are you confused by all the choices?

First, facts are ammunition. Here are 6 things to get you off to a good start.

1. Medicaid vs. Medicare. What is the difference?

Let's start with the basics. While both Medicaid and Medicare help to cover health-related expenses, Medicare is for people 65 years and older. Plus, those with certain disabilities. To find out if your disability qualifies, learn more on the Official US Government Site for Medicare.

2. What are the four parts of Medicare coverage?

· Part A includes hospital stays, and the medicines and materials used while there. Home health care and nursing facilities, etc.
· Part B covers outpatient services. Doctor visits and materials and medicines used in a doctor's office.
· Part C (also known as "Medicare Advantage") must cover both Part A and Part B. Private companies (versus the government) provide these plans. 
· Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs, medications, insulin supplies, etc.

3. Is enrollment into Medicare automatic?

Yes and no. It is automatic for Part A if one of the following applies to you:
· You have Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS)
· You are under 65, have a disability, and have received social security benefits from the RRB for the past 24 months.
· You are getting social security benefits or RRB benefits, and you are about to turn 65.
· You live in Puerto Rico and get benefits from social security or the RRB.

If one of the above describes you, then 3 months before your 65th birthday, your Medicare card will arrive in the mail.

If your birthday has come and gone, and no card has arrived, you'll need to apply to enroll. If you are not clear on any of the above points, call your local social security office.

4. How and when do I enroll in Medicare?

When: Most 65 year olds have a 7-month window in which they can enroll. These seven months span the 3 months before and after their 65th birth month. Be careful. If you enroll late, there are penalties that could apply to you and you will not have any health insurance coverage during that gap.
How: If you're enrolling in Part A or Part B, then you have a few options, via...
· The Social Security website
· Local Social Security office
· Social Security phone number: 1-800-772-1213

5. How much does Medicare cost?

Good news. Part A, coverage for hospital stays and materials used during your hospital stay, has no cost if you paid enough in Medicare taxes. Part B does cost, though, at the base rate of $121.80 in 2016. This monthly premium changes, depending on your last tax return. You will pay more if you recorded above $85,000 for singles and $170,000 if married.
The annual deductible for Part B is $166 in 2016. After that, you pay 20 percent for most doctor services. That is, if Part B covers the doctor service you frequent. Take note that Part B may or may not cover the physical therapy type that you use.

Want all this pricing info at a glance? The Official US Government Site for Medicare has cost stats for 2016.

6. What about my prescription drugs? Will Medicare cover that?

Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs but there is no automatic enrollment into this plan. You are eligible to apply if you have signed up for Medicare Part A and or Part B.
It is not always beneficial to sign up for Medicare Part D. You might be getting a better deal through a current coverage plan. There are medical health planners that can provide research and pricing information to help you find the best fit for you. 

Staying abreast of the changes in the Medicare system and how they might affect you can feel more mind-boggling than it needs to be. Take it one step at a time. Talk to friends who have changed to Medicare recently. Ask what plans they've signed up for and why. Get on the phone and talk to a Medicare rep. Doing your homework will pay off in the long run.

Source: http://staugustine.com/interact/blog-post/jt-ripton/2016-07-27/6-things-know-head-start-medicare-enrollment
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