There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem: Medicare is complicated. This government-sponsored health insurance program helps millions of Americans every year, but there are many requirements, guidelines, and questions that always remain.
Here are seven Medicare myths and truths from Bankers Life, a national brand of life and health insurance.
Myth #1: You can apply at age 62
Many people think they can enroll in Medicare at age 62, but the eligibility age is usually 65. You have seven months to enroll (from three months before you turn 65 to three months after the month you turn 65), which is called your initial enrollment period.
However, there are exceptions. For example, if you’re disabled and eligible for benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you can also enroll in Medicare.
Myth #2: I’m automatically enrolled when I turn 65.
If you are receiving Social Security retirement benefits or railroad retirement benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. You will receive a Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday or 25th month of disability.
If you don’t receive these types of retirement benefits, it’s your responsibility to enroll in a Medicare plan by calling Social Security, visiting a local office, or applying online.
Myth #3: Medicare will contact me when it’s time to enroll.
Medicare does not contact you directly when it’s time to enroll. If you receive an email, phone call, or other communication claiming to be from Medicare and asking for personal information, it’s probably a scam. You should never do any of the following
- Provide your Medicare card, Medicare number, Social Security number, or Social Security number (only to your doctor or someone else you know).
- Refrain from accepting money or gifts in exchange for free care.
- Refrain from letting anyone other than your doctor look at your medical records.
- Sign up for a Medicare plan over the phone (unless you call Medicare directly) If you suspect someone is involved in fraud, you can report it to 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Myth #4: You can’t get Medicare if you’ve never worked.
Many Americans are eligible to enroll in Medicare for free because they worked for 10 or more years (recently). However, if you (or your spouse or parent) have certain illnesses or disabilities, you may be eligible for disability benefits and Medicare Part A. Or you may not qualify for free Medicare.
Or, if you don’t qualify for free Medicare, you can enroll in Part A, but you may have to pay for it because you didn’t “pay into” the federal fund that funds Medicare with your income taxes. You’ll pay $278 or $506 per month for Part A, and you’ll need to purchase Part B.
Myth #5: Medicare and Medicaid are the same.
Medicare and Medicaid are separate government programs. Medicare is for people who are retirement age or have certain disabilities, while Medicaid is primarily for people with low incomes.
Myth #6: Only individuals of retirement age are eligible for Medicare.
Medicare is also available to younger people with disabilities or certain medical conditions. To qualify, you must have received SSDI for 24 months or have end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Myth #7: Medicare enrollment is always open.
You can only enroll in a plan during Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, and during Individual Initial Enrollment.
It’s important to note that each enrollment period has strict guidelines for eligibility and how to apply. If you don’t follow these requirements, you could be penalized. Make sure you’re following the rules. A financial planner or licensed insurance agent can help guide you and answer your questions.
Material courtesy of StatePoint
Photo source: Stock images from Canva