Millions of Americans rely on Medicare to cover their health care expenses. But with so many choices and decisions to make, people often don’t know where to start and who to talk to if they have questions. This can lead to a lot of misinformation and even more confusion about picking a plan. Here, we review seven of the most common Medicare myths. View slideshow:
Myth #1: Medicare is free health care
Although many people think Medicare is free health care, it’s not true for several reasons. First, paychecks have a deduction for Medicare so you’ve been paying in throughout your working years. Second, although Part A (covering hospital coverage) is free for most people, you’ll still need to pay for Part B (all outpatient services). In 2021, that cost is $144.60 per month. If you opt in for coverage beyond Original Medicare—such as Medicare Advantage or prescription drug coverage—you’ll need to pay more. Many people find their health insurance costs are lower with Medicare than with an individual or employer plan, but there are still costs associated with it.
Myth #2: You’re automatically enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65 years old
If you are receiving Social Security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. However, if you’re waiting to receive benefits, you are not automatically enrolled. If you are continuing to work while also receiving Social Security benefits, you may opt out of Medicare coverage.
Myth #3: I can enroll in Medicare whenever I want
Just like with other types of health insurance, there are enrollment periods. When it comes to Medicare, the time to enroll is during your initial enrollment period, which is the seven-month span that includes your birthday month plus the three months before and after it. During this time, you’ll at least want to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B to avoid costly penalties. If you miss this enrollment window, you’ll have to pay a monthly penalty once you do sign up.
Myth #4: I won’t qualify for Medicare
Original Medicare does not have any preexisting health condition limitations. The same is true with Medicare Advantage plans. Although there used to be limitations for those with end-stage renal disease, this is ending in January 2021.
Myth #5: All Medicare plans are the same
Original Medicare costs the same for everyone, but Medicare Advantage plans provide different benefits at varying costs. All Medicare Advantage plans must cover basic Medicare health care services and they must cover at least what Original Medicare covers. However, these plans often offer services above and beyond what Original Medicare provides. This might include fitness programs, routine vision exams, dental work and over-the-counter benefits. Every plan is different, so it pays to do your research to find one that matches up with what’s most important to you.
Myth #6: Medicare covers all of my long-term medical costs
Many people think Medicare will cover a long-term stay in a nursing home. However, Medicare plans only cover medically necessary health care expenses. Long-term care is different and requires a separate insurance policy.
Myth #7: You can’t switch Medicare plans
This is absolutely not true—you can switch plans during the Annual Enrollment Period. Anyone who gets Medicare will receive a notice of change by September 30 that explains how their current plan will change in the upcoming year. If you decide to switch plans, you can do so October 15 through December 7. There is also the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period when people can make one more change after the first of the year. These changes can be made through March 31.
Network Health helps people understand Medicare
Network Health can help you learn more about Medicare and your plan options. Connect with one of our sales advisors or brokers at networkhealth.com.