6. Your Medigap Policy Is Guaranteed Renewable

Medigap 300Any standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable, even if you have health problems. This means the insurance company cannot cancel your Medigap policy as long as you pay the premium.

7. Hospice Care Is Not Covered By Medicare Advantage

hospice-careHospice care is not covered by Medicare Advantage. Original Medicare Part A pays for hospice care even when you get your benefits through a private Medicare Advantage plan.

Also, not all of the same prescription drugs that might be covered under a standalone prescription drug plan will be covered by Medicare Advantage.

8. What is a Service Area?

medicare-questionEvery Medicare Advantage plan has a service area. This is a geographic area where the plan is available and offers coverage. A service area is usually a county, state or region. You must live in a plan’s service area in order to join it.

9. Is Financial Assistance Available For Medicare Costs?

medigap costYes. If you have limited income and assets, you may qualify for assistance with medical costs you receive under Medicare. You should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to see if you qualify.

Some programs you may qualify for include:

  • Medicaid helps pay costs not covered by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). It may also include some added benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, including prescription drugs, eye care or long-term care.
  • The Medicare Savings Program helps you pay your Original Medicare premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.
  • Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) combines medical, social and long-term care services for people over the age of 55 who meet the qualifications to receive nursing home care, but live and get their services in the community. This program is not available in all states.
  • Prescription drug premium assistance programs help pay some or all Medicare Part D premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance.
  • Other programs may be available in your state.

10. Are There Penalties For Missing My Initial Enrollment Period?

question manYes. Missing your Enrollment Period can be costly.

Medicare Part A is premium free if you or your spouse worked and paid taxes for at least ten years. If you do need to pay a premium, the penalty is 10% of the Part A premium for signing up outside of your Enrollment Period. You will have to pay that penalty for twice the number of years you delay enrollment. In other words, if you wait for 4 years to enroll, the 10% premium penalty will need to be paid for 8 years.

If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B when you are first eligible, you will have to pay a 10% premium penalty for every 12 months you delay your enrollment. For example, if your Initial Enrollment Period ended September 30, 2010 and you signed up for Part B during the General Enrollment Period in March 2012, then your Part B premium penalty would be 20%. You waited a total of 30 months to sign up, but that included only two full 12-month periods.

In most cases, the Part B penalty will be attached to your premium for as long as you have Part B coverage.

You enroll in Medicare Part D by buying a standalone prescription drug plan or enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage. This penalty is set by Medicare. For each month you delay, you may pay an additional 1% of the average premium per month. You will pay that penalty for as long as you’re enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan.