5 Ways to Maximize Your Medicare Benefit
Medicare is an important part of retirement financial planning, but it can feel overwhelming. Between all the terminology and the lists of potential costs and benefits, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re getting.
That’s why it pays to do research (by reading this article, you’ve already started!) so that you know how to choose a plan and make the most of it.
Use these five tips to maximize some of the important benefits of Medicare while saving on costs (and hassle).
One: Avoid costly penalties and fees
One of the most expensive things you can do is not sign up for Medicare. While many people are automatically enrolled – if you’ve started taking Social Security benefits, you’ll be automatically enrolled – many others aren’t.
For example, if you’ve decided to delay taking Social Security, you should still enroll in Medicare.
You have an open enrollment period in the 7 months around your 65th birthday. Don’t delay: if you don’t enroll for Medicare Parts A and B and you want to get Part B later, you’ll be faced with a possible late-enrollment fee and higher premiums.
The penalties can add up quickly: for every year you were eligible for Medicare Part B and didn’t enroll, your monthly premiums will rise 10%.
If you’re still employed, you might be able to delay signing up without triggering a penalty – talk to your employer about your specific situation.
Two: Take advantage of wellness benefits
Medicare prioritizes wellness and prevention, so the program offers numerous screening and wellness services. You can access services ranging from flu shots to bone mass screenings, tobacco use cessation counseling to medical nutrition advice.
These great preventive and wellness benefits can help you nip health issues in the bud and help you invest in good health for your golden years.
That could mean a healthier and more comfortable retirement, not to mention a more affordable one: fewer health issues could mean lower health costs.
Three: Get the right plan for your needs
With Original Medicare, Medigap, and Medicare Advantage, you can choose the plan that meets your individual health and wellness needs.
Consider your typical medical expenses or any special coverage that you rely on before choosing a plan. It can be all too easy to forego important medications or visits if they feel unaffordable: by building your required services into your plan, you can help to ensure that you’ll get the care you need to enjoy a healthier retirement.
If the available options seem out of reach, be sure to contact Medicare directly for help. A Medicare consultant might be able to help you understand the options and find a more affordable way to get the coverage you need.
If you’re considering or already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to reach out to your insurer as well: you might be able to take advantage of unadvertised discounts!
Four: Shop around every year
Enrolling in Medicare can be a big undertaking, so you may not be enthusiastic about the idea of doing it every year.
But premiums for Medigap and Advantage coverage can change year-to-year and may be affected by your health status, so it could make sense to do a quick price comparison to make sure you’re getting the best deal. You might find that it makes sense to switch – or you could discover you’re already getting the best deal for the coverage you need already!
Five: Prepare for specialized or supplemental coverage needs
While you’re shopping around each year, consider whether you might need to adjust your coverage in the future.
Are you planning on taking a long trip? Or maybe you’ve been struggling with an injury and could use more physical therapy. Perhaps your doctor has recommended that you consider surgery for a chronic problem in the future.
In any of these situations, you may need more coverage than what you currently have. Consider the options and the costs to help ensure that you find the right plan for your needs – not just today, but in the future.
A bit of reflection and strategizing can help save you both out-of-pocket expenses and a lot of headaches.
For more help or information about Medicare, consider consulting with a specialist. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or visit the Medicare.gov website to learn more.
All information in this article was sourced from Medicare.gov unless otherwise noted.