Whether you are just going onto Medicare or reviewing your current plan, it can be a very confusing time. Most people don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to turn. That doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some common Medicare Mistakes for recipients to avoid:
1) Not updating and analyzing prescription plans annually:
The prescription drug plan you have this year will not be the same plan next year. Part D plans can (and often do) change premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and covered prescriptions. Couple this with the fact that you may have added or dropped prescriptions, your coverage should be reviewed every year. We can help you avoid this simple Medicare Mistake!
2) Not comparing Medicare Supplement costs at least once every 3 years:
Every year the costs of Medicare Supplement plans change. Medigap coverage is standardized by the Federal Government, so the coverage does not change from company to company. This means, periodically, it is likely you can find the same coverage with an A-rated carrier for a significantly lower premium.
3) Not checking with pharmaceutical companies for savings:
Do you take medications that have very high co-pays and are very costly? There are a number of different ways that you may be able to lower these costs so that they are more affordable. Many pharmaceutical companies offer grants which can reduce your co-pays, or eliminate them completely.
4) Not knowing plan benefit limits:
Some Medicare plans have limits on what they will cover. Many people think that their insurance is infallible and will cover everything. Each plan has different limitations. It is crucial to know what your plan will and will not cover, so there are no unwelcome surprises.
5) Not Reviewing if a doctor is in network:
This is on of the easier Medicare Mistakes to make! Many senior Michiganders are snowbirds and travel south to warmer weather in the winter. There are Medicare plans that do not “travel well” and do not offer coverage out of state. Even in the state of Michigan, certain Medicare plans have networks. Before signing up for a plan, it is important to know if your doctors are a part of that network.
6) Not cancelling prior coverage correctly:
There are Medicare plans that will cancel automatically upon enrollment into a new plan. Not all of them do. Do not cancel your prior coverage until you are approved for your new coverage. In addition, make sure you cancel your old plan, or you will be paying two premiums.
7) Not finding a long term trusted Independent Advisor, or going to the company directly:
Most folks on Medicare would agree that working with an independent insurance advisor is critical. By independent, I mean they are able to offer a wide variety of company options and choose what is best for you individually, not just present what one company has to offer. A reputable independent advisor will take your entire situation into consideration and make sure that what they advise is in your best interest. This is the difference between an advisor and a vendor. Since these plans are always changing, it will give you peace of mind having this trusted person you can rely on.
8) Not comparing options outside of predetermined retirement benefits:
You worked for years, and part of the reward was health insurance in your retirement. Great! Not necessarily. Just because it is a retirement benefit, does not make it the most cost effective option. Compare your plan with other private options to see if you are in the best spot. You may be surprised what you find out. I have found people paying thousands more than they had to, for less benefits.
9) Not taking advantage of other coverage available because of being on Medicaid or using V.A. benefits:
Medicaid and V.A. benefits offer adequate coverage. However, many folks do not realize there are plans available that sometimes have no additional cost and can provide additional benefits such as dental, vision, hearing, and free gym memberships. Just as important, they can give flexibility. If, for whatever reason, you needed to see other “Non VA” or Non Medicaid participating physicians, these plans can potentially save quite a lot of money!
10) Not considering all options available:
A large percentage of Michiganders have had plans with one specific company while they were working. When they retire, they automatically choose a plan with that same company. Group coverage is very different than Medicare coverage. The company that covered you when you were working may not be the best for you in retirement.
11) Not signing up in person:
Medicare insurance can be very confusing. It is important to sit down with a local professional who can answer all of your questions and leave information with you. Most folks like to have a local resource to call with ongoing questions as well. 1-800’s usually are not anyone’s first choice.
12) Not signing up for a prescription plan:
Some people do not take any prescriptions, or the prescriptions they do take are low cost generic medications. Even so, not having a Part D plan in place while on Medicare is typically not a wise choice. If a plan is needed in the future, a hefty penalty could be assessed for the rest of your life for not have creditable coverage all along.
Have you considered all of these Medicare Mistakes, or possibly even fallen into one? Don’t worry; you are not in a boat alone. Many folks in retirement have not considered all of the aspects of Medicare insurance. It is quite a complex topic! If you have any questions regarding these Medicare Mistakes, or simply want to chat, give us a call or text “CHAT” to (231) 638-5339.
Marc Hudson, Tim Alfieri, and Sara Hornick, investment advisor representatives of, and securities and advisory services are offered through, USA Financial Securities Corp., Member FINRA/SIPC. A Registered Investment Advisor located at 6020 E. Fulton St., Ada, MI 49301. Hudson Wealth Management is not affiliated with USA Financial Securities.