For those who are unfamiliar with Medicare, it can seem confusing and impenetrable, but we are going to explain Medicare Enrollment in 2018 for you so that you will know how to sign up and when to sign up. You’ll also be better informed and be able to make a smart chocies regarding medical insurance when the time comes.
When You Can Enroll
Generally, you can only sign up for Medicare once you hit age 65. Some people will be allowed to apply and be approved before then, but they have to be under special circumstances such as having a disability or suffering from end stage renal disease. You may have questions about eligibility that are not answered in this article. If this is the case, then you can always talk to an insurance agent from Medicare or a private insurance company that sells that plans to find out more and to see if you might be eligible.
You will usually only be allowed to enroll in Medicare plans during what is called Open Enrollment. This is a once-a-year event that starts on November 1st most years. It usually ends about the middle of December, but the exact dates are not the same each year. You can check what the dates are for the upcoming year on Medicare’s site or by searching for Open Enrollment online.
Once you are signed up, the plan will take effect the next year. The reason we recommend Open Enrollment is because you usually can’t sign up outside of it. This is also the time of year when you are guaranteed the plan you want. Any plan that you apply for and are eligible or, you are guaranteed to be approved for. You also get the lowest possible price for that plan, if this is your first time signing up for a Medicare plan. Your preexisting medical conditions should not be taken into account during Open Enrollment.
Medicare Enrollment in 2018
The eligibility requirements for Medicare and its various plans are fairly straightforward. You have to be 65 years old and a US resident to be able to apply. There are some exceptions, and you can always talk to an insurance agent about those exceptions, if you think one may be made for you.
Once you are eligible for one Medicare plan, then you are usually eligible for every one of them. There are a few to pick from. You could go with the basic Medicare plans, known as original Medicare. Or you could sign up for Medicare Part D, which adds coverage onto the base plan. Part C of Medicare includes the original medical plan and adds more coverage onto it. Medicare Supplement plans attach onto the base plan as well, as they add more coverage of varying degrees, depending on which one you choose.
These are your options, but they are not all available through Medicare directly. It is really only the basic Medicare plan, known as Original Medicare, that you can get through Medicare itself.
For Medicare enrollment in 2018 in something other than that basic plan, you will have to see a private insurance company. These companies are allowed to sell specific Medicare plans, so long as they abide by certain coverage guidelines. For instance, any insurance company hat sells Medicare Part C has to include the same basic coverage as every other Part C plan. They may be able to add more coverage onto that standard set of items, but they do have to include the standard coverage.
What to Do Once You Are Enrolled
You will have to choose a term for the plan when you first sign up. You decide how long you want your contract for- whether it is a year or several years. It may be very difficult to change plans at a later date, before your contract is up, so make sure you choose the right plan to start with.
You may not be able to add coverage onto your plan either. Part C is so robust that Medicare usually doesn’t allow other plans to be purchased in addition to that plan. There would likely be some overlap between the plans, and Medicare does not permit its subscribers to pay for the same insurance twice.
You will also need to be aware of your insurance company’s network. Every Part C plan is based on the network of the insurance company that sells it. Each company has a series of hospitals, clinics and such that have approved its plans. These make up its network, and when you go outside that network for medical care, you may not receive full coverage.
The most basic and most common type of network plan is called an HMO. This gives you full coverage at any healthcare facility on the network. If you go off the network, though, you receive no coverage. PPO plans are another network option. These give you coverage anywhere you want to go for medical care, but only full coverage at the network locations. You receive partial coverage when you go off the network for treatment.
Other Medicare plans don’t operate on a network like this, so you don’t have to worry so much about where they are accepted. Most medical facilities accept Medicare coverage, but you do have the right to ask before you receive any service if that service is covered by your insurance plan. You can ask either your doctor, a medical facility employee or your insurance company. One way or another, you will get the information you are requesting, because you are entitled to it by law.
Hopefully this clears up a lot of what Medicare enrollment for 2018 is all about, and if you have any further questions, then see an insurance agent. Take your time in choosing a plan and pick the right time to enroll. If you do, you will save money on medical care and not have to worry so much about being able to afford the healthcare that you need.