Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Mystery Of Medicare

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - M...Image via WikipediaI have gone through most of life not thinking about Medicare. I didn't have to, it wasn't for me, it was for those old timers over there. Now that I have become one of those old-timers, I am getting curious. Even though I am to young for it yet, you have to be 65. It's still over the horizon for me, but with a lot of my baby-boomer brothers and sisters closer to it, I thought a little info searching was in order.

So what does it cover? Do I need it? When should I sign up? Lots of questions. So I headed over to the HQ for all things about retirement, our old friends at They have created Medicare Starter Kit to get you up to speed on all things Medicare.

They start out with the Top Eight Do's and Don'ts:

1. Do give yourself time to learn about Medicare: It's a system with many choices and deadlines. Being informed is the best way to avoid mistakes that cost money.

2. Don't expect to be notified when it's time to sign up: Unless you're already receiving Social Security benefits, you must apply for Medicare. But you won't get any official notice on when or how to enroll.

3. Do enroll when you're supposed to: To avoid permanent late penalties, enroll at age 65 if you're not working, don't have employer insurance or live abroad; or, beyond 65, enroll within eight months of stopping work — even if you continue to receive COBRA or retiree health benefits from an employer.

4. Don't despair if you haven't worked long enough to qualify: You may qualify for Medicare on your current or former spouse's work record. Or you may be able to buy into the program.

5. Don't worry that poor health will affect your coverage: If you qualify for Medicare, you receive full benefits. You can't be denied coverage or charged higher premiums because of current or past health problems.

6. Do remember that Medicare is not free: You pay premiums for coverage and copayments for most services, unless you qualify for a low-income program or have other, extra insurance.

7. Don't assume that Medicare covers everything: It covers a wide range of health services (including expensive ones like organ transplants), prescription drugs and medical equipment. But there are gaps.

8. Don't expect Medicare to cover your dependents: Nobody can get Medicare under age 65, except those who qualify through disability. Medicare has no family coverage.

This is only a small taste of what the Medicare Starter Kit has to offer, get over to and find out more.

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