Getting Your Medicare Coverage During The Pandemic
President/CEO at Healthcare Solutions Direct, LLC, a nationwide insurance agency focused primarily on the retiree health market.
Regardless of what forces are impacting your daily life, it’s apparent things are changing for everyone. Day-to-day activity has slowed for some, and many people are adjusting to a new way of working. These changes can lead to job loss, but they can also impact a person’s decision to retire. About 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, and while that is the average retirement age, not everyone plans to stop working then. Even so, with Covid-19 affecting employment, seniors who had hoped to work longer may seek retirement earlier than expected.
One of the most confusing parts of transitioning out of the workforce can be healthcare coverage. When employed, you are most likely on a company-sponsored plan. Your company might even assist you with the premium. Regardless of financial contribution, a corporate group plan typically comes with plenty of explanatory material about its benefits as well as a breakdown of out-of-pocket costs. Larger companies can even have employees dedicated to helping you figure out your healthcare coverage and understand what your insurance does and does not do. All this can go away when you retire.
Because of that, if you have lost your job or decided to retire, and you’re 65 or over, it is best not to waste time when it comes to applying for Medicare. The process is taking longer than it would without a pandemic impacting daily lives for a variety of reasons, including:
• With many business offices still closed, it can be harder to get previous employers to verify you had insurance with them while you were employed. This is typically required for Medicare applications.
• Social Security offices are closed to in-person service, which means individuals cannot go there to get Medicare applications processed.
In addition to dealing with these potential complications, you should decide if you want to get a Medicare Supplement or an all-in-one private insurance Medicare Advantage plan. There are many options to consider.
A basic Medicare policy is broken down into several parts. Part A includes hospital coverage. Part B covers outpatient care and medical equipment. Part D handles prescription coverage. Not all parts come with monthly premiums, but most do. Then, there’s Part C, or Medicare Advantage plans. They are offered through private insurance and include coverage from Parts A and B. There are also Medicare Supplement plans, which complement the benefits that come with original Medicare. Adding this option can help reduce deductibles, but there are limitations. This is just the beginning of the minutia that can relate to figuring out your healthcare coverage after 65.
More questions often arise about coverage for vision, dental, medications and the possibility for long-term care. When you worked full-time, most of this was likely covered, but as a retiree, it is up to you to figure all this out. Plus, being 65 or over, you might have additional specific conditions that require coverage. Options are out there to suit any medical history or current diagnosis; they are just not always easy to find.
It is possible to lose time figuring out which forms to complete, as well as deciding on the coverage you want. You should sign up for Medicare coverage as soon as your insurance situation changes to prevent gaps in coverage. Another reason it’s important to apply in a timely manner is that failing to apply for Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period can lead to lifelong delayed enrollment penalties.
One option to help navigate the waters of Medicare coverage is to work with an independent insurance agent who specializes in Medicare. They will have enough information, relevant to your specific situation, to walk you through the entire process of applying for Medicare insurance coverage. Your agent can also help make sure you are not getting incomplete coverage, which can mean not having enough, or paying for too much. Working with an agent can also help you stay on top of new developments in Medicare, which means less chance of missing out on any changes to Medicare or new information about supplementary coverage that applies directly to you.
Whether you enlist the help of an agent or go it alone, you should make sure to start the Medicare application process as soon as you can. But know that even with Covid-19 causing big changes in our lives, you can get the Medicare coverage you need as you transition to life without a 9-to-5.
The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.