What is Medicare?
How do I enroll in Medicare?
You have three ways to sign up for Medicare:
- Initial enrollment period (turning 65) 3 months prior, month of, 3 months after
- Special enrollment period: specific circumstance that allows enrollment outside of annual enrollment periods
- The general enrollment period is January 1 to March 31. During this time you can enroll if you missed original enrollment deadline. Coverage will start July 1
Apply by calling Social Security’s main number at 1-800-772-1213. Or you can apply at your local Social Security office online by going to www.ssa.gov/medicare. Read the instructions and follow the directions carefully.
Will I automatically be enrolled in Medicare?
You may be automatically enrolled if you fall into one of these categories:
- You’re coming up to your 65th birthday and you’re already receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the railroad retirement board.
- You’re younger than 65 but you become eligible for Medicare on the basis of disability.
What happens if I go to an out-of-network pharmacy?
You’ll pay a lot more for your drugs, in most cases the full price. Of course, it depends on the policy of the plan you own. Generally, if you do pay more, the extra cost will count towards your out-of-pocket limit. However, if you receive the extra help, you can’t be charged more than you would at an in-network pharmacy.
Am I better off staying on COBRA if it’s available?
COBRA allows most people who left or lost a job to continue health benefits from the former employer for up to 18 months. Paying for premiums as well as your own share of costs can be very expensive. In some cases, eligible spouses and independent children can receive this coverage, even if the parting employees don’t take it themselves.
Can I take an income tax deduction for Medicare costs?
Yes, you can deduct the cost of healthcare including that incurred from Medicare as an authorized medical expense if you file an itemized schedule a form 1040 tax return. Of course, you have to meet IRS regulations. The important thing is you can only deduct those expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. The tax break generally favors people with high healthcare costs on limited incomes, as opposed to people who are in good health and financially stable.
What is something I should not do when it comes to Medicare?
Do not pick the same plan as your spouse’s best friend, neighbor, or cousin because they are not you. They don’t take the same drugs and most likely don’t have the same medical conditions as you.
Educate yourself as to the plan you’re choosing. Seek help from a licensed professional who offers multiple choices for you.
How do I lower my prescription drug cost?
You can dramatically reduce your drug cost if the brand-name drugs have a generic or similar version that your doctor thinks would work as well for your medical condition.