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Read the fine print when it comes to Medicare coverage
Hello KIRC fam!
How many of you have given any thought to Medicare? Show of hands…anyone?
If you are 65 or older, there is a good chance you know something about the federal government’s health care plan covering millions of Americans.
But if you are like many folks, you may not give Medicare any attention (other than changing channels when one of the dozens of various commercials come on promoting one company or another’s plans, promising everything under the sun - for FREE. You know the ones I’m talking about!
For those of you new to Keeping It REAL Caregiving, I invite you to check out some of our previous articles focused on items to consider regarding Medicare.
Honoring Memorial Day 2022 plus: Your caregiver calendar & news you can use for the week May 30 - June 4, 2022
I often refer to the Medicare & You Handbook as, ‘the Bible.’
That is not to make light of any religion or faith. It is to stress the point, that it is worth the time and effort to read through the 2023 guide (hard copy or digital) so you have a better understanding of the many nuances, changes, rules, guidelines, and possible pitfalls of making Medicare coverage decisions for you or a loved one.
Today, another nugget of information I wanted to share.
I recently attended an informational meeting about Medicare enrollment, hosted by the Northern California, Butte County Area Agency on Aging, PASSAGES.
Here are three items I found interesting that you might also want to pay close attention to.
Purchase the best care you can afford when you enroll
Begin reviewing your options early by reading and digesting the Medicare information before it is time for the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).
That window is seven months: the three months prior to the month you turn 65, the month of your birthday, and three months after the date you turn 65.
Annual enrollment each year runs from October 15th through December, 7th. That is the time window when you can make changes to your coverage.
But here’s the little nugget you should know - and it is a BIG but.
According to our training presenter, once you choose which plan you want for your Part B coverage, (plans A, B, D, E, etc) - if you wanted to make a change, say to a more robust coverage option, it is not as simple as just changing.
IF you even have the right to switch, (consult your state Medicare advisor) you have to satisfy a waiting period to get coverage, and that is IF your insurance company agrees to sell you a new plan. Which means you could then be stuck in limbo, or denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
So choose wisely at the start. Our training leader encouraged everyone to purchase the best you can afford when you enroll.
Transitioning from an HSA (Health Savings Account) to Medicare
If you are currently contributing to a Health Savings Account, through work or you are self-employed and contribute, be aware that once you hit that magic number of 65 and enroll with Medicare, you are no longer eligible to contribute to your HSA. Think of it as ‘double-dipping’ - no can do!
The cutoff for making HSA deposits is the month before you turn 65. Otherwise, you’ll be hit with a tax penalty.
That’s good to know, right? I thought so.
Marriage, healthcare and taxes
Another nugget of information which caught my attention has to do with how you have filed your taxes: married filing jointly or married filed separately - AND - your income.
I found it quite complicated to understand. Rather than confuse you (or myself) more, I am including several additional resources which explains it quite well.
The Social Security Administration offers a comprehensive and detailed overview of this topic.
I also found a private outlet providing information and guidance which breaks it down in fairly clear terms.
*KIRC does NOT recommend relying only on this information to make your personal choices. Always consult with your tax advisor or financial planner. *
There is a LOT to digest when it comes to navigating the Medicare landscape.
Considering millions of Americans are covered by Medicare, providing medical care for those 65 and older, one would think the entire system would NOT be this complicated.
I encourage all of you to seek out professional guidance when enrolling, to help you understand all the nuances.
A simple mistake could lead to penalties (some which are almost impossible to remove), or not having the proper care/coverage you need.
Be sure to check your local resources
Area Agency on Aging (for your region)
Good luck and good health!
Until next time~
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*Keeping It REAL Caregiving is a proud to serve as Regional Advocate for the California Coalition on Family Caregiving. To learn more, click here!
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