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What You Need to Know About Your Medicare Card

When you enroll in Medicare, you’ll receive a card that proves your enrollment. Like most other health insurance cards, you present the card when you get medical care. Social Security and Your Medicare Card If you’re turning 65 and you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll get a Medicare card automatically – it should show up in the mail three months before your 65th birthday. If you’re turning 65 and not yet getting Social Security benefits, or if you need Medicare for other reasons, you can apply in three different ways: online at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling Social Security (800-772-1213) between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by going to your local Social Security office in person. What’s On Your Medicare Card Your Medicare card will be red, white and blue. It will show personal information about you – like your name and when your Medicare coverage took effect. It shows less…

5 Ways to Save on Medicare Supplement Plans

Making sure your healthcare needs are covered in retirement is essential. There are a variety of factors to consider when it comes to Medigap coverage, also known as Medicare supplement plans. Use these tips to get the coverage you need while finding ways to save. Know Thyself With so much advice swirling around, it is easy to lose sight of what’s important. Your healthcare needs are about you. What works well for one person might be disastrous for someone else. Before you start to find ways to save on Medicare supplement plans, you need to understand your health history and your health insurance coverage needs. If you are someone who needs regular doctor visits now, you likely have concerns about out-of-pocket costs. Be realistic when it comes to the right coverage for you. In addition to carefully exploring your own medical history, think about the health history of your family,…

7 Resources for Making Sense of Medicare

It’s open enrollment season for Medicare. If you’re currently enrolled in Medicare, you have until December 7 to review the various plan options. This is the time when to decide which are right for your health insurance needs and finances. These are the same decisions you would make if you’re enrolling for Medicare for the first time—which you can do starting three months before your 65th birthday and up to three months afterward (or eight months after retirement if you work past 65). If you fall into either camp, or need to help make these choices for a parent or older spouse, it’s important to know the options and how they best align with your needs. Personal health situations change from year to year. Elements and rules that go with various Medicare plans often change too. Medicare is a tremendous benefit for Americans 65 and older, one that most of…

On Medicare? Is Your Flu Shot Covered?

There are a lot of questions that go into planning for retirement, and some of those questions concern healthcare costs. Among the more simple, straightforward questions many people have is this one: “Does Medicare cover flu shots?” The basic answer is, “Yes.” But to understand flu shot coverage, we need to do a basic lesson in Medicare 101. A lot of supplemental types of insurance have been added to the world of Medicare, but the essential program known as “Original Medicare,” is made up of two parts: Medicare Part A: Hospital insurance that covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some in-home care. Most people receive Medicare Part A without paying a premium. Medicare Part B: Medical insurance that covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services. Some people get Medicare Part B without paying a premium, but most people do…

How to Avoid Mistakes When Choosing Medicare Plans

“A problem well-stated is a problem half solved,” said renowned inventor and businessman Charles F. Kettering. With the number of options, choices and deadlines facing you when making Medicare decisions, it’s not difficult to run into a few problems. In some cases, you may not realize it until it’s too late. So, what are some mistakes when choosing a Medicare plan? Here are five of the most common: Staying the Course Without Reviewing Your Current Medicare Coverage You signed up when you were eligible. That’s good. But inertia can be a dangerous thing. One of the most common mistakes is doing nothing after you’ve signed up for your initial plan. Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs mid-October into December so you can adjust your coverage as your needs change. Like your needs, Medicare options change each year, as well as potentially the cost of those options. Are you making good…

Top 7 Questions to Ask When Shopping for Medicare

Cake. Balloons. Medicare?! Your 65 birthday represents a milestone in your retirement. When you turn 65 it’s your golden opportunity to select a Medicare plan to meet your needs. Medicare may seem complicated at first glance, but it doesn’t have to be. The help of a knowledgeable SelectQuote agent removes uncertainty when shopping for Medicare. He or she will simplify the process for your current and long-term healthcare needs. When purchasing your Medicare plan, it’s important to consider the plan premium and the value it provides. “Think about your healthcare long term,” advised David Perlberg, a licensed SelectQuote insurance sales agent. “The first time you enroll at 65 is the only time when you can gain Medicare Supplement insurance with no questions asked. If you decide to change your plan down the road, you’ll need to qualify medically for supplemental insurance. Many people can’t get the insurance they desire at…

Understanding Medicare Part D Prescription Coverage

Medicare Part D is the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare. If you’re among the 59 million Americans on Medicare – 18 percent of the population and growing – you’re probably well aware of the Medicare prescription coverage gap, often called the “doughnut hole.”  With 2019 just weeks away, fall is the time to plan your Medicare coverage, as certain rules change for the coming year. The good news is that Congress passed a bipartisan prescription drug coverage deal in February, so you should spend less on drugs in 2019. Open enrollment began October 15 and you’ll want to compare your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage options to make sure you’re in the plan that works best for your needs. For 2019, open enrollment runs from Oct. 15, 2018 to Dec. 7, 2018. During this period, you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage. What Is the Medicare…

Getting on Medicare Before Age 65

Among the many questions people have about Medicare benefits is, “Can I get on Medicare early, before turning 65?” The annual Medicare enrollment period is about to begin, bringing with it a lot of questions about how to get on Medicare early, choosing your coverage, understanding the alphabet soup of its various parts and finding out why and how to get supplemental coverage. Before we start talking about that, let’s get some perspective on Medicare by looking at some statistics from the 2018 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds. It’s the annual report of the boards that oversee the trust funds that provide the money behind the program we all know as “Medicare.” According to the report, “In 2017, Medicare covered 58.4 million people: 49.5 million aged 65 and older, and 8.9 million disabled. Total expenditures in 2017…

What Medicare Covers When Traveling

What do most people say they want to do when they retire? Travel. Depending on your needs in retirement, your Medicare health insurance program may not make the best travel companion.  In the past, we’ve addressed in detail what Medicare A, B, C and D plans cover. Medicare Part A and Part B together cover essential medical scenarios such as hospital stays, doctor visits and medical equipment. Twist an ankle hiking and you may want those crutches. Whether at home or on the road, these are worthwhile services. But if you plan to travel quite a bit in retirement, let’s examine how Medicare meets — or doesn’t — your needs while away from home. When traveling, we enjoy indulging the senses. Often, this is where Medicare programs do a poor job serving as a healthcare concierge. We’ll use both domestic and international destinations to demonstrate some shortcomings in the plans. Santa…

How to Plan for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

Every year, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) or Open Enrollment kicks off Oct. 15 and closes Dec. 7. Whether you are newly eligible for Medicare or already in a plan, you’ll want to consider several items in preparation for the enrollment period. We outline steps to help ensure you get the most out of your planning. Already Enrolled in Medicare? The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is an important time for you. Before the AEP starts, it’s always good to review your current needs and anticipate what you might need in the coming year. Perhaps you now need prescription drug coverage. If your current coverage is not providing everything you need, you can now modify your plans for next year. Or conversely, maybe you obtained services this year that are no longer of value. The AEP provides an opportunity to drop or switch plans. Furthermore, Medicare health and drug plans could…