A lot of people don’t understand Medicare. This is likely due to the confusing nature of medical insurance in the United States in general, but it hasn’t been getting any clearer. As the cost of healthcare and insurance continues to rise, how will people make smarter decisions about their own health, finances, and long-term wellness?
Medicare is a federal program which provides medical care to seniors 65 years and older. According to AARP, 44 million people are currently enrolled in Medicare, and this number is expected to grow to 79 million by 2030. With numbers like that, you’d think there would be less confusion around this program. Today, we’re going to debunk 5 common Medicare myths to uncover the truth.
Myth 1: Medicare Is Free
The most rampant myth amongst people of all ages is that Medicare is a free program. While there are some free benefits to the Medicare program, it’s far from free. Just because it’s so widely used doesn’t mean it’s free for beneficiaries.
First, you’ll need to pay monthly premiums for Part B, C (optional), and D of Medicare. This includes things like outpatient services and prescription drugs. In addition, there are still deductibles and out-of-pocket costs like any other insurance. Ultimately, it’s safe to assume participants will be responsible for around 20% of their medical expenses under Medicare.
Myth 2: Medicare Part C Is Unnecessary
While it’s true Medicare Part C is optional, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great option for a lot of people. Also known as Medicare Advantage, Parc C is when you choose a private insurance provider for your coverage instead of “traditional” coverage with Part A and B. With a Medicare Advantage plan, private insurance companies are regulated by the government, and they’re required to offer at least as much coverage as traditional Medicare plans.
Because Medicare Part C is through a private company, it’s more flexible. You might be able to include dental and vision insurance, for instance. These plans are also at different price ranges so they’re often a better fit for those who need some wiggle room in their budget. (Source: https://www.healthmarkets.com/resources/medicare/what-is-medicare-part-c/)
Myth 3: There’s No Deadline to Enroll
One of the confusing parts of Medicare enrollment is the deadline. When you apply for Medicare, you have an enrollment window. This begins 3 months before your 65th birthday and continues 3 months after. If you wait too long and miss the period, you’ll be subject to a late fee for signing up later and you’ll need to wait until open enrollment.
You won’t necessarily be notified when your enrollment window is coming up. If you’ve already signed up for social security benefits before you turn 65, then you’ll automatically be enrolled in Parts A and B. Otherwise, you’ll be responsible on your own.
Myth 4: You Need Good Health
Another myth is that only those in good health can enroll. The Affordable Care Act made it unlawful for insurance providers to reject patients due to poor health. This is true for all insurance, including Medicare. You can feel some peace of mind knowing your acceptance into the program is a sure thing.
Myth 5: Medicare Benefits Will Run Out
There’s a common misconception that things like Medicare have a time limit. This belief is true for younger generations who think these benefits will “run out” before they’re able to reap these rewards. In fact, this isn’t the case. While it’s true the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund is expected to be depleted by 2026, this doesn’t mean the program is “bankrupt.”
All this means is the program will run budget-neutral. Some hospitals and providers might be paid less because of this, but it shouldn’t impact patients. So don’t worry about there not being enough funds by the time you turn 65 since that’s nothing but a myth.
Whether you or a loved one are aging Medicare years, it’s important to stay informed. With policy changing fast, you want to be able to separate fact from fiction. These debunked myths above prove that Medicare is a thriving program, whether people realize it or not.