BABY BOOMER BENEFITS
Calling all baby boomers! If you have not been thinking about Medicare and supplemental insurance, now might be the time. Read more to know if you’re ready to think about Medicare.
Baby boomers are part of a generation that is typically defined as lasting from 1946 to 1964. If you fall into this generation, you might want to start thinking about Original Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance now.
A Medicare supplemental insurance plan — also known as a Medigap plan — is a separate insurance policy from Original Medicare that covers more of your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. As of 2018, baby boomers born in 1954 or 1955 might need to seriously consider what type of healthcare coverage they want in retirement.
Let’s look at some of the reasons you should start thinking about Medicare supplemental insurance now.
CONSIDER GROUP COVERAGE
These days, many professionals continue working long after their 65th birthdays. In fact, according to Entrepreneur, many people keep their jobs into their 70s for a variety of reasons, including larger nest eggs, health benefits, and longer life expectancies.
If you’re still employed at age 65 and you have group coverage, you don’t need to apply for Medicare supplemental insurance now. Guaranteed issue rights allow you a grace period after your group coverage ends so you can take advantage of a Medigap plan if you wish.
You might also have retiree insurance, which means that your employer’s benefits package includes continued insurance coverage for a specific period of time after you retire. In this case, you don’t need to choose a Medigap plan just yet if you don’t want to.
LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS
Experts recommend researching Medigap plans at least three months before your 65th birthday. That way, you’re prepared with information about your options and you’re ready to apply for Medicare supplemental insurance after you become an Original Medicare beneficiary.
Remember that you have a huge decision to make. The Medigap plan you choose and the other decisions you make can have an impact on your healthcare and your pocketbook for the rest of your life.
If you miss your initial enrollment period, for instance, you become subject to underwriting. This means that insurance companies can deny your Medigap plan application or increase your monthly premiums considerably.
To make sure you’re paying the lowest possible rate for your Medigap plan, start the research process several months before you turn 65, then get in your application long before the six-month initial enrollment period ends.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE
Many people mistakenly believe that Original Medicare, Medigap plans, and social security retirement operate on the same schedule. This isn’t the case. Full benefits from social security retirement for baby boomers begin at age 66 or 67, depending on when you were born.
If you think you can wait until you turn 66 to apply for a Medigap plan, you put yourself in the position of having to apply outside your enrollment period. Again, you’ll be subject to underwriting, which might render you ineligible for coverage or require you to pay a much higher premium.
DECIDE WHETHER YOU WANT A MEDIGAP PLAN
You have many options when it comes to post-retirement healthcare. In addition to a Medigap plan, you also have the option of applying for a Medicare Advantage or Medicare SELECT plan. All of these options have pros and cons, so you have to decide what’s right for you specifically.
Medigap plans come with plenty of benefits, including reduced out-of-pocket expenses and more control over your healthcare expenses. You have a completely separate policy that complements your Original Medicare coverage, so you pay two premiums. If you want Medicare Part D, you’ll need a third policy to cover your prescription drug costs.
RESEARCH MEDICARE SUPPLEMENTAL INSURANCE
The more information you have, the more likely you become to make a good choice for you and your family. Research the Medigap plan or plans you like most to determine what they cover and whether they will meet your needs.
There are 10 Medigap plans from which to choose, each of which covers different copayments, coinsurance costs, and deductibles. The most comprehensive Medicare supplemental insurance policy is Plan F, which covers all copays.
AVOID ALL ENROLLMENT PENALTIES
Enrollment penalties come into play when you wait too long to apply for a Medigap plan. This means that your enrollment period has ended.
Enrollment penalties usually come in the form of higher premiums. If you’re within three to six months of turning 65, start researching your Original Medicare and Medigap plan options, as well as the alternatives to Medigap.
Designate a calendar for all retirement-related decisions and deadlines. That way, you’ll always know you’re on track to complete required paperwork, find doctors in your area, and oversee every other decision you’ll need to make.
UNDERSTAND TRIAL RIGHTS
Trial rights, which are also called guaranteed issue rights, allow you to try certain Medicare programs without committing to them for life. For instance, you can drop your Medigap plan to try Medicare SELECT. If, within the first year, you decide you don’t like your current plan, you can switch back to your original Medigap plan without penalty.
The same goes for beneficiaries who try Medicare SELECT or Medicare Advantage and decide to drop those plans within 12 months. If you fall into that category, you can apply for a Medigap plan instead, but you typically have only 63 days to complete the process.
Baby boomers have lots of decisions to make as they approach their mid-60s. Knowing what options you have in terms of Medicare can make the process far less stressful.
Decide whether a Medigap plan is right for you. Research the different options using Ensurem’s Medigap Quoter, then apply for the policy that meets your needs. Remember that social security retirement has nothing to do with Medicare. Don’t wait until you turn 66 or 67.
Knowledge is power. Learn everything you can about Medicare Supplemental insurance. That way, you’re prepared to make an informed decision.