10 Common Medicare Questions Answered

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by Medicare and the enrollment process, you’re not alone. With so many plan options available, it’s hard to know where to begin in selecting the plan that is right for you. Our team of expert advisors have compiled a list of commonly asked questions to help you feel more comfortable with the transition to Medicare.

1. How do I sign up for Medicare A & B?
Depending on your individual situation and unique health care needs, customized coverage can be established through a combination of Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. To enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, contact one of our expert advisors to discuss your options and to find the best coverage for you.

2. If working past 65, can I enroll in Medicare Part A only?
If you are 65 and older and have been employed for at least 10 years under Medicare-covered employment while paying Medicare taxes, you will automatically be enrolled for premium-free Medicare Part A if you are currently receiving a Social Security (SS) benefits check. If you do not receive SS benefits, you must enroll for Part A individually. If you do not meet the work history requirement, you can still enroll in Medicare Part A; however, it is important that you compare the coverage and costs of Medicare Part A to that of your employer as it may make more sense to remain on your employer’s health coverage plan.

3. What is the difference between my employer’s Retiree Health Insurance Plan and Medicare?
A Retiree Health Insurance Plan is health care coverage an employer may provide to its former employees after retirement. In most cases, retiree policies act as a secondary payer to Medicare, meaning the retiree policy will cover some – if not all – of the remaining medical expenses after the primary insurer (Medicare) has paid for the approved service. It is important to note that retirees choosing to take advantage of their employer’s Retiree Health Insurance Plan should also enroll in Medicare to ensure they are fully covered. In addition, some retiree policies also require that you sign up for Parts A and B once you are eligible for Medicare.

Check with your employer’s benefits team to learn more about the coverage offered through their retiree health coverage program, and also contact an advisor at RetireMEDiQ to compare coverage types and discover which option would be the most cost-effective and beneficial for you.

4. I plan to keep working after I turn 65. What does this mean for my health care coverage as it relates to Medicare?
If you plan to work past the age of 65, there are still several important Medicare items to consider around the time of your 65th birthday, including:

  • If you work for a company with more than 20 or more employees and receive health care benefits through your employer, you may not need to enroll in Medicare; however, it may be worth looking into as switching from an employer health care plan to Medicare may save you money.
  • Have you been employed for at least 10 years and have paid Medicare taxes? If so, you will automatically be enrolled for premium-free Medicare Part A if you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, even if you choose to continue to work. If you do not meet the work history requirement, you can still enroll in Medicare Part A; however, it is important that you compare the coverage and costs of Medicare Part A to that of your employer as it may make more sense to remain on your employer’s health coverage plan.
  • If you or your spouse is still working for a company with more than 20 employees and/or if you receive low-cost health insurance through your or your spouse’s health employer, you may want to consider delaying enrollment for Medicare Part B. If you choose to delay Part B, you will not be hit with monthly premiums just yet.
  • Does your current employer have more than 20 employees and offer a high deductible health plan that features a Health Savings Account (HSA)? If so, you may want to consider delaying enrollment for Part A. If you elect to enroll in Part A, your employer will no longer be able to contribute to your HSA. You must stop contributing to your HSA six months before you enroll in Medicare Part A.

5. Is the health care coverage provided through Medicare as good as what I receive through my employer group plan?
The answer to this depends on what type of coverage you received while on your employer’s group plan and the type of coverage you’re looking for through Medicare. Enrolling in Original Medicare may not cover everything you’re used to receiving through your employer as it does not include a prescription drug plan or Medicare Supplement; however, if you choose to enroll in a supplement (see below) or a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you’ll most likely receive the same amount of coverage – if not more – than what you received on your employer health care plan.

6. If I am eligible for Veteran’s Benefits, do I also need Medicare?
Veterans who are eligible to receive health care benefits are not required to enroll in Medicare; however, they can take advantage of receiving more coverage, broader selections for physicians and treatment facilities, and supplemental benefits at little or no cost through a Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan. Veterans who sign up for Medicare Advantage will continue to have access to their Tricare health insurance and Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage while receiving prescriptions through the same coverage as before. There are also options to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans that are specially designed to meet the coverage needs of veterans. 

7. Will my existing Health Savings Account (HSA) be affected if I choose to enroll in Medicare?
The contributions made by both yourself and your former employer to your Health Savings Account (HSA) will not be affected. The money accrued during your employment is yours to use towards qualified expenses when needed; however, individuals who choose to enroll in Medicare Part A and continue to work after 65 can no longer receive HSA contributions from their employer. It is important to note that any individual who plans to enroll in Medicare Part A must stop contributing to their HSA six months before enrollment.

8. What Individual Health Insurance Plan options are available for those under 65 and how much do they cost?
The number of options you have for selecting an Individual Health Insurance Plan before the age of 65 is endless and the cost will vary based on the type of coverage you choose. Call one of our expert advisors at 1-855-804-8397 for assistance in narrowing down these options to find the best health coverage plan for your individual needs.

9. I’m eligible for Medicare but my spouse is younger. What are their Individual Health Insurance Plan options?
If your spouse is not currently working or is not eligible to receive health care coverage through their employer, additional options for coverage include:

  • Purchasing an individual health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace or by contacting insurance companies directly for more information.
  • Applying for Medicaid, a public health insurance program based primarily on income and family size. Additional criteria for eligibility vary from state to state.
  • Applying for temporary Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) insurance. COBRA allows individuals who have left or lost a job, as well as their spouses and children, to continue to receive health care coverage through the individual’s former employer by paying full premiums.

Contact a RetireMEDiQ advisor to further discuss the coverage options available to your spouse. 

10. What is the difference between a Medicare Advantage plan and Medicare Supplement plans?
Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans include deductible and copay cost-sharing features, and typically have lower premiums than Medicare Supplement plans. In addition, individuals on an MA or MAPD plan may also receive additional benefits such as vision, hearing and some dental coverage.

Medicare Supplements, also referred to as Medigap plans, are exactly as they sound – they are designed to supplement and “fill the gaps” of original Medicare by paying the deductibles and coinsurance for Medicare-covered services. It is important to note that supplement coverage is secondary to Medicare and will only cover Medicare-approved services. In addition, Medicare Supplements do not provide prescription drug coverage so many individuals pair a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) with their Medicare Supplement to help cover the costs of prescription medications.

We Can Help!

For more information or to discuss the plans that are available to you, give us a call at 1-855-271-2882 or schedule an appointment online. Our advisor teams are ready to help you receive the best coverage at the best price – all at no cost to you.

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