Medicare is a federal insurance program for Americans over 65. For all of those individuals over 65, going onto Medicare is mandatory and the insurance companies are clearly aware of this. It has become a free for all for every licensed insurance agent to make an attempt to sell you some sort of medicare advantage plan.
For many the complication is when and how to choose your coverage? It gets really confusing for seniors because there are so many companies in the marketplace and each one offers five or six different plans. You get bombarded with mail and sometimes you can get the same ad multiple times in a week. To top it all off your phone rings from 9-5. Even Agencies from out of state market to you.
So what is the big deal with being on Medicare? “First off when you turn 65 you have earned the right to utilize Medicare and you can now choose any coverage you’d like and you cannot be refused due to pre-existing conditions, age, etc. You are in a limited guaranteed issue period not only for Medicare but other types of coverage as well. Second if you are already on Medicare, you may change your plan during Annual Election or Special Election periods” explains David Demus, licensed Insurance agent in the state of Florida.
In detail the initial enrollment period is when you first become eligible for Medicare. So for those turning 65 they can opt for the plan they want at the time of their birthday. For the rest there is an annual election period for everyone already on Medicare. This occurs from October 15th through December 7th. The choice you make during this time will take effect as of January 1 of the following year. A special election period would occur if your plan is terminating, you are leaving the service area, you become diagnosed with a certain ailment etc. There are guidelines for each of these periods in which you must speak to an experienced agent to ensure you qualify to make a change.
The process for going onto Medicare is typically automatic once you turn 65 assuming you are drawing from Social Security. If you have to manually enroll, you can do so in a number of ways, online, in person etc. There are many instances where working/retired individuals will receive better coverage and spend less by comparing their current employer plan with Medicare benefits. “I have many clients who are continuing to work even after 65 because for them, full retirement comes at age 66 or even 67, they are unsure of whether or not they need to enroll into Medicare. Because there are penalties that will occur for improper or late enrollment, I start the planning process up to a year in advance with these clients.” states Matthew Muratori, a licensed insurance agent who specializes in the Medicare insurance market.
Whether you are signing up for the first time, or already on Medicare, it is important to review your plans, options and changes in health care needs with your agent on a yearly basis. In this technical age, all too often Medicare recipients are under utilizing their Medicare benefits because either they have lost touch with their agent or signed up on their own. Very often Insurance Agents are your best source of the most current information because of their required yearly training for the plans in which they represent. Choosing an agent is as critical a process as choosing the plan itself. You are your best advocate so be sure to test the agent on his knowledge of Medicare. Ask the tough questions; make sure they review the plan in its entirety with you.
The entire process is no doubt confusing and for everyone turning 65 this is all new information they are learning. Let’s face it Insurance is a business to make money. It’s not always about providing the best healthcare. Medicare is not an insurance company so making this decision often has long lasting effects on your future health and financial stability. Be sure to know all your rights and entitlements before making your decisions.
Mr. Demus and Mr. Muratori specialize in Medicare as well as many other forms of insurance and can be reached at 1-800-###-###