Many seniors who are enrolled in Medicare and Medicare supplement plans end up paying more than they should, or missing out because they don’t review their plans every year. One thing you ought to know about Medicare and everything associated with it is that it is reevaluated on an annual basis – you may find that there are significant changes in your plan every year. There are 3 reasons to change your Medicare supplement plan: the coverage, what benefits you are entitled to, the convenience and the cost.
True, reviewing your Medicare supplement plan can be a complicated affair especially when you look at all the options presented to you, but that shouldn’t stop you. You should set aside some time and go through your current plan and see whether there have been any changes. If you find that things are different it may be time for you to move to a new plan.
You can only do this during Open Enrollment. It occurs every year and it lasts for 6 months. There is no fixed time for it – it all depends on when you turn 65 and enroll for Medicare. You cannot extend your Open Enrollment period – if you don’t make changes to your plan during this period you will have to wait until the following year. If you go ahead and join anyway you may find that you are at a considerable disadvantage. These include higher premiums for your supplement plan as insurance will take into account pre-existing conditions. When can you change Medicare Supplement plans? Once you have joined a Medicare supplement you can change any time you like.
What if I don’t want to pay for a Medicare supplement plan?
Many seniors don’t have a lot of money saved for retirement, so any additional bills, including premiums for a Medical supplement plan, don’t seem like a good deal. As you plan for your future it is very important to set aside some money to pay for Medicare supplementation. True, Medicare will take care of most of your bills, but as you grow older and older these bills will become astronomical and if you have to pay out of pocket they may drain your retirement savings. A medical supplement plan will only cost you a few hundred dollars a year and it will cover all supplemental costs associated with Medicare.
When If you feel that you are paying very high premiums you can look at alternative packages – remember you can change your plan at any time once you are enrolled. Find one that you think is affordable for the long term but make sure that you are getting proper coverage – there is no point in paying cheaper premiums only to realize that you are excluded from a service that you really need. One way to make these premiums smaller is to start paying them early in life. The earlier you start the smaller your premiums will be later in life.
How useful are Medicare supplement plans?
Before you commit to a Medicare supplement plan you may want to see real figures that prove that you really need it. Here is a simple example. Many seniors fall and break their hips. The total cost, including hospital stay, for repairing a broken hip comes to about $65,000. Of this, Medicare will pay about 80%, and you will be required to pay the rest, which comes to about $13,000. You may be able to pay this directly out of your retirement savings, but think about it – this is only for a broken hip. What if you end up with a much more serious condition? Will your retirement savings be able to cover what Medicare doesn’t pay for? Having a good Medicare supplement plan ensures that these additional costs are taken care of. Your retirement savings will be able to go much further.