Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Medicare
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner
I recently attended a Medicare training given by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and learned a few things. Here is my top ten list of things you may not know about Medicare:
10. The annual Medicare & You manual is printed specifically for your state. In 2016, only 320,000 of the 56.5 million Medicare beneficiaries got these manuals online. That’s a lot of printing.
9. While Medicare does cover some skilled and home health care, it does not cover long-term care. I keep repeating this because it’s important.
8. You need to be admitted to the hospital for Part A coverage to take effect, otherwise Part B kicks in and you will have to pay for 20% of the cost yourself unless you have Medigap insurance. Just because you stay overnight at the hospital does not mean you have been admitted. You may still be in observation status.
7. 10,000 people a day are going on Medicare.
6. There is a two-year look-back period when your Part B premium is set. This means if you recently retired and earned a high salary, you may pay more for Part B even if your income in retirement is much lower.
5. The Donut Hole (prescription drug coverage gap) goes away in 2020.
4. Dates matter! If you don’t sign up when you are first eligible, you will have to pay more for Parts B and D for the rest of your life.
3. If you don’t enroll in a Medigap policy when you are first eligible, insurance companies can charge you more or deny you coverage if you have pre-existing conditions. In other words, enroll when you are first eligible for guaranteed acceptance.
2. The #1 claim denied by Medicare is for ambulance services. The #1 source of fraud is in home health care services.
And the #1 thing you may not know about Medicare is:
Starting April 2018, Medicare will start issuing new cards that do not contain your Social Security number (click HERE for more information). Instead they will have a unique number for each Medicare beneficiary – benefits will not change. The goal is to help guard against identity theft. New cards will be sent out randomly. This means my mother may get hers in April 2018 but my father may not get his until December 2018. There is no way you can find out when your cards will be mailed to you.
I started hearing the commercials about the new Medicare card this past week. The new card design will be unveiled in September. Visit www.cms.gov for more information.