Medicare expert, Toni King answers the top 4 most frequently asked questions about Medicare.
What if I did not enroll in Medicare Parts A & B when I should have? I don’t want to pay that extra Part B premium each month. I don’t go to the doctor and I don’t take any prescriptions. Can I enroll later?
If you are past 65-years-and-90-days old, not working full-time with true company benefits, and decide to enroll in Medicare Part B, then you must wait until Medicare’s General Enrollment Period, which is January 1 – March 31 of each year to enroll. You will now be penalized an additional 10% more for each 12-month period that you could have had Part B but did not sign up for it. Say you wait 3 years, which will be a 30% penalty. You will pay this late enrollment penalty for as long as you are on Medicare. Remember, you have ABSOLUTELY NO doctor coverage if you do not have Part B. You will pay 100% out of pocket for doctor care and any outpatient care, including hospital, MRI, radiation, chemotherapy, X-rays, etc. You will not be a happy camper! Get Part B when you are not working full-time with company benefits.
Related: Can I Delay Medicare Enrollment?
What if I am over 65, have retired from work, and need to get Part B? What do I do?
Before you have been terminated from your group plan and/or not working full-time, apply for Medicare Part B. Seek which plan best fits your needs such as a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Talk to your doctor about what plans they accept. Search for which Medicare Prescription Drug Plan covers your prescriptions. Since you are leaving company benefits and receiving Medicare Part B, you only have 60 days to get Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage. Try and do everything as soon as you become eligible for Part B.
What if my adult children or a friend help make my medical and financial decisions?
Make sure that your decision-maker is a signer on all your legal documents, such as your power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and living will. The only way your care can be discussed with an insurance company, or any health care professional is with the person who has been named your power of attorney. This does not mean that you are losing control of making your own decisions but helps make sure that you are making wise medical and financial decisions.
What if I’m on a limited income and cannot afford my prescription drugs or the Part B premium?
Contact or visit the Medicaid office and see if you qualify for Medicaid’s QMB or SLMB. Call your local Social Security office or apply online for extra help if you do not qualify for Medicaid. Each year the amounts change. The worst Medicaid or Social Security can say regarding qualifying for extra assistance is say no.
Toni Says: Get proactive about your Medicare! No one can do it for you.
Toni KingContributing Writer
Toni King is an author, columnist, and radio and TV personality who specializes in Medicare, Social Security, and long-term care planning. While conducting a Medicare workshop in 2009, Toni was approached by a member of the audience who had received incorrect information about his Medicare Part B enrollment from Social Security. After taking a couple of days to help the gentleman straighten out his overwhelming problem, Toni’s new mission had become clear. Following more than 27 years as a top sales leader in the Medicare insurance industry, Toni would become an advocate for Americans receiving Medicare. Since then, Toni has devoted her life and career to putting Medicare into “people terms” with the help of her books, consultations, workshops, and website, ToniSays.com. Read more from Toni King.