Enrolling in Medicare is already tough enough, nevermind the difficulties of a pandemic!

You’ve probably received tons of information in the mail and you’ve already heard from your peers about what they think you should do. And yet, 2020 throws a new wrench into the decision making process because now it is more difficult to meet with a Medicare broker face to face. However, HealthyMarks is eager to help answer any questions you whether you want to chat over the phone or in person.

This year, we have noticed a handful of common enrollment mistakes that can result in penalties or resulting in you not being able to enroll until a later date.

4 Medicare Enrollment Mistakes To Avoid

Here are 4 common medicare enrollment mistakes you should avoid during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Putting off medicare enrollment until you feel more comfortable meeting with someone in person.

I know it is tempting to put this decision off until a later date but it is important to understand that you are responsible for signing up during your initial enrollment period. The initial enrollment period is 7 months long, starting 3 months before your 65th birthday month and ending 3 months after. If you don’t enroll during this time you risk incurring penalties that could make your plan cost more in the future. COVID is not an excuse, you are still responsible for signing up properly.

This is where HealthyMarks Medicare can help. Our team loves meeting in person. It helps us build a relationship with our clients so we can best understand your needs. We’d love to meet with you in person; we will wear a mask and social distance properly. However, many of our clients have agreed that phone calls are a bit more pragmatic at the present.

Our Medicare team is trained to gather as much information about your doctors, prescriptions, and hospital needs so we can pair you with the best plan for you. During your enrollment, we can ensure you will find confidence in your new Medicare plan.

2. Missing your special enrollment period after finishing up your career and retiring.

Many people are still working at the age of 65 and choose to keep their health insurance benefits offered through the company. So long as the company you work for employs more than 20 people, you can continue with your company sponsored plan until you wish to enroll in Medicare at a later time. With COVID hitting in 2020, many employed people have decided it is a good time to retire. In this scenario, it is important you enroll in medicare as soon as your career wraps up.

Because you didn’t enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period near your 65th birthday, ending your career creates a new enrollment period for you. This is called the Special Enrollment Period. It is important to prioritize your medicare enrollment because you can only use the Special Enrollment Period while working or eight months after you no longer have insurance through the company. Timing is important, you’ll want to make sure you enroll during this time or risk incurring late enrollment penalties.

3. Not Understanding Late Enrollment Penalties for Original Medicare and Part D

Mistake 1 and 2 all boil down to this: How can I be sure to avoid any penalties?

Many individuals choose not to enroll in Medicare because they figure they can always do so at a later date. Although this is true, your premium will be higher than normal if you do not enroll properly. Since many of us are out of the office due to a pandemic, it is important to be knowledgeable about what will incur a penalty and what situations delay penalties.

If you delay enrolling in Original Medicare Part B, your monthly premium may increase by an additional 10% every 12 months you aren’t enrolled. This penalty can be avoided if your job-based health insurance coverage is sponsored by a company with 20 or more employees.

If you have health insurance through your employer, you likely have qualified Prescription Drug Coverage included. You should receive a letter from your insurance provider informing you that your drug coverage is comparable to Part D and you will avoid penalties so long as you stay enrolled. If you do lose your coverage,

For every 12 months you delay signing up for a Part D plan, your monthly premium may be 1 percent higher. Part D plans cover prescription drug costs. You won’t have to pay the Part D penalty if you can show Medicare that you have drug coverage as good as that provided by a Medicare Part D plan.

If you lose your drug coverage, you’ll be eligible for a two-month special enrollment period, during which you can sign up for a Part D plan without a penalty. But keep that letter so you can show Medicare you did have Part D-comparable prescription drug coverage when the time comes to enroll in Part D.

4. Choosing a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t include your health care providers

Not all health care providers accept all Medicare plans! During the 2020 pandemic, I have seen too many enrollees skip through their due diligence when it comes to verifying that the Medicare Advantage plan they have selected will provide them access to the doctors and hospitals they are accustomed to visiting.

Each Medicare Insurance Carrier here in San Diego offers an Advantage plan. These plans are similar to HMOs in the sense that they require you to stay within a strict network of health care providers. For example, SCAN Medicare offers great Advantage plans that provide access to Scripps. With this plan, you will only be able to visit their Scripps network of doctors and you’d pay out of your own pocket if you visited Sharp.

Medicare Supplement Insurance offers access to more doctors across the United States. Our HealthyMarks team will verify that your doctors access Supplement Insurance. If you decide to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, it is just as important that we verify the doctors will accept you.

Our HealthyMarks Medicare team prides itself in knowing the details about all the San Diego Medicare plans as well as all the networks of doctors. If you have any questions about which plan will be best for you and your family, we would love to speak with you and help you enroll.