#74 – As you celebrate the start of Medicare at 65, there are some key insurance-related decisions you’ll need to make.
Make one mistake and you might end up paying hundreds of dollars extra per month!
Now, this is not to scare you, but to help you understand the importance of planning for Medicare.
In part three of this Medicare series, Jeremy Keil speaks with Nancy Towle, a licensed Medicare insurance specialist who has helped many people (including herself) sign up for Medicare. Drawing from her professional and personal experience with Medicare, she’s here to help you make smarter Medicare decisions.
- How to avoid a potential penalty for delaying Medicare coverage
- How health, income, and lifestyle affect your “Supplement vs. Advantage” decision
- Why you shouldn’t blindly follow insurance commercials on TV
- Additional protection plans you should consider during retirement
- And more
5 Lessons From a New Medicare Enrollee
1. Delay Medicare With Caution
If you’ve read our previous blog, 5 Things To Know Before Enrolling for Medicare, you’ll know that you don’t “have to” sign up for Medicare at 65.
For example, you can delay your Part B coverage (the paid component of Medicare) if you have creditable coverage through an active employment.
But what counts as creditable coverage? First of all, it has to be a drug plan that is as good as, if not better than, Medicare.
Since Obamacare, a lot of employers have reduced coverage in certain areas. Due to this reduction, if your drug plan is not as good as Medicare now, it will not count as creditable coverage.
On the general health insurance side, your plan needs to offer preventative care at no cost, along with a maximum limit for out-of-pocket expenses. Without these benefits, it’s not creditable.
Most importantly, it needs to be insurance from a current employer. As long as you get insurance because you or someone else is working that counts.
Some of the common plans that people think are creditable, but really aren’t, include: COBRA, retirement health coverage, Christian Ministry plans, and coverage from past employers.
Remember, delay your Part B premiums only if you have creditable coverage. Otherwise, you may be subject to a penalty!
2. Base Your “Advantage vs. Supplement” Decision on Health, Income, and Lifestyle
Choosing between Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your insurance.
There is no universal solution for this decision, and the answer depends on your health, income, and lifestyle.
- Health: If you’re dealing with a progressive illness like Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cancer, a Supplement plan can likely save you the most money. If you’re a relatively healthier individual and visit the doctor only occasionally, Advantage might be the way to go.
- Lifestyle: If you frequently travel throughout the country and don’t want to check the network every time, then a Supplement plan is preferrable.
- Income: You can think of income in two ways. If you have a lower than average income, you might choose Advantage to reduce premium costs or Supplement to improve coverage. Nancy Towle suggests opting for more protection.
These are just some basic guidelines to make your “Advantage vs. Supplement” decision easier. It’s always advisable to consult a professional.
3. Get a Drug Plan Even if You’re Not Using Prescription Drugs
When you turn 65, you might not be using any prescription drugs. Does that mean you don’t need to sign up for the prescription drug coverage plan?
NO! If you delay your drug plan, you might be subject to a penalty.
If you want to save money in premiums, you can begin by signing up for a low-cost plan. The lowest plan this year is $6.30 per month. There is also a $9.80 per month plan, with slightly better coverage.
Alternatively, you can sign up for Wisconsin SeniorCare. It costs only $30 per year and counts as creditable coverage.
4. Don’t Follow TV Commercials Blindly
You might come across various commercials about insurance. Please don’t follow them blindly!
Oftentimes, they are not by insurance companies. Clearing houses use them to gather information.
When you make a call to inquire and provide your name and number, your information could be sold to insurance agents. Afterward, you could start receiving several calls from insurance salespeople, and it can be super annoying!
The next time you feel enticed by an insurance commercial, make sure you consult a professional first before purchasing any plans.
Here’s a quick story that Nancy Towle shared on the podcast:
One of her clients was taking two insulins due to his health conditions. This could cost him nearly $35 per month per insulin.
After looking at a commercial, he called them. The salesperson on the other end sold him a plan in which the two insulins cost $400 per month! Now, there was no way to switch back until January 1st of the next year, so he was stuck with those high costs for months.
5. Keep an Open Mind To Additional Protection
Keep an open mind to additional protection plans that offer benefits outside of your Medicare plan.
For instance, there is a critical illness plan for heart attack, cancer, and stroke.
Such additional protection plans are different from Medicare. Medicare directly pays the doctors, while these plans pay you – either as a lump sum or on a service basis.
Due to critical illnesses, your medical bills can add up quickly. During such times, additional protection plans can be a life saver!
To learn more about Medicare insurance, check out the resources below!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or our guest Nancy Towle using the contact information provided below!
- Medicare and You 2022 (The Official U.S. Government Medicare Handbook)
- 5 Things To Know Before Enrolling for Medicare
- SeniorCare Prescription Drug Assistance Program
- Medicare Plan Finder
- Medicare What’s Covered Website
- Medicare What’s Covered App on Apple
- Medicare What’s Covered App on Google Play
- Get Started With Medicare
- “Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit
- Medicare: Joining a health or drug plan
- Marcia Mantell
- 3 Things You Should Know Before Choosing A Financial Advisor
- 6 Questions Retirees Aren’t Asking But Should Be
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About Our Guest:
Nancy Towle represents HealthMarkets Insurance in Southeastern Wisconsin and the entire State. Nancy focuses on serving the life, health, and future plans of individuals, families, and those looking towards or already in Medicare. She takes pride in getting to know her clients to understand their needs and provide objective guidance and solutions. Nancy represents almost all of the Wisconsin companies in the Senior Market (which makes her very up to date with the most recent changes in Medicare) and additional offerings for you to support your Medicare coverage. As a licensed agent with HealthMarkets, Nancy can help people of all ages.
Results and figures presented within the above links are hypothetical, unaudited, and are intended for illustrative purposes only.
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