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Medicare does not pay for all medical expenses

If you are close to your 65th birthday, then you may be wondering about Medicare and how it works. It is a good time to begin to figure out what you want and should need from your healthcare coverage. On average roughly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.

The two most important things you need to know about Medicare are: Medicare does not cover everything, so plan for extra expenses, and if you do not sign up when first eligible (and are without qualifying coverage elsewhere), you pay a life-long penalty for late enrollment.

Many people think that Medicare is free. This belief likely comes from the assumption that since they paid into Medicare while working, thanks to the employer withholding a sum of their earnings, Medicare is free. However, that is not true. Medicare has deductibles, premiums, co-pays and other assorted expenses.

The second reason, that may contribute to the belief that Medicare is free probably emerged from the trending talk about “Medicare for All.” Many assume that “Medicare for All” means that it is or will be free. That is not true. The slogan, “Medicare for All” is a call for Medicare to be open and available to all.

Currently Congress is sorting through various bills that hope to achieve a Medicare system with no co-pays, premiums or deductions. In the meantime, you need to know that the existing Medicare programs cost you money the instant you enroll. So, it is best to be prepared in advance, spend time doing cost comparisons, know what you want and need, make a list and ask questions before agreeing to buy Medicare. Moreover, remember that long-term care (if required), dental, over-the-counter medications and basic vision care are also extra expenses you need to cover as well.

If you have worked for ten years or more, you do not pay premiums for Medicare Part A, but it does have a deductible of $1,364 per benefit period and some caps on benefits. Ask your insurance agent to explain that to you in detail so you are familiar with what is and what is not covered. Part B has a standard monthly premium of $135.50 right now and comes with a $185 deductible for 2019. While Part B does not cover medications, Part D covers medications. You can also use a stand-alone plan in original Medicare or you could opt for Advantage Plan Part C to help you cover the costs of medications.

Planning for and determining you healthcare coverage in retirement is all about research. Knowledgeable and experienced insurance agents are great assets in helping seniors determine what is best for their budget and needs.