Medicare Enrollment Periods
Medicare enrollment periods can be one of the most confusing parts of Medicare. The reason is that there is more than one enrollment period for the several different parts of Medicare. For example, Medicare Part A and Part B have an enrollment period. Medicare Part C and Part D also have different enrollment periods. This is where you must start your exploration of Medicare. The reason is that the enrollment periods for Part B and Part D carry with them Medicare penalties that you will want to avoid. I will explore the penalties below in the next topic.
If the government creates something you can believe it will have a penalty with it. (Obamacare anyone?) Obamacare is not a pioneer when it comes to including penalties as part of government run healthcare. Medicare was the first when it instituted a penalty for Part B of Medicare and then followed later with a penalty for Part D of Medicare as well. So why the penalties in the first place? Well, notice that Part B and Part D of Medicare both carry a monthly premium. Instead of “forcing” you to sign up for these two parts, they simply instituted a penalty if you “elected” to delay signing up for them in order to avoid paying the monthly premium.
Medicare Provider Networks
Remember the good old days when you signed up for Medicare and didn’t have to worry about where you could use it? Those days are mostly gone, but may be making a comeback, well, sort of. Original Medicare or Fee For Service Medicare has that feature. You can go to any provider that accepts Medicare. Medicare Advantage (Part C) of Medicare uses a network of providers. The kicker is that while Obamacare drives us back toward Original Medicare, it also cuts payments to providers causing fewer doctors to accept Original Medicare. Currently, if you sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan you need to make sure that all of your providers are in that plan’s network.
What’s the one part of your Medicare insurance you use every month? For most seniors it is their prescriptions. You are probably on some time of maintenance medication that must be filled every month, and if you’re not, you probably will be in the future. You will find if you don’t know already that every single Medicare Part D plan has it’s own formulary with different Tiers. Your drug may cost more on one plan than another, and perhaps might not even be covered by some plans.
Medicare and Long Term Care
Does Medicare cover long term care? No, it does not cover it at all. In fact, it is illegal for a provider to bill Medicare for long term care services. What Medicare does cover is skilled nursing care. Skilled nursing can be received in a long term care facility which causes many seniors to think that Medicare cover it, when in fact it does not. Make sure you are covered by a good long term care policy if your assets are large enough to need protecting.