Most Americans who turn 65 are eligible for Medicare, a federal program that covers many health expenses for seniors. But the program is complicated.
Here are 5 important facts you need to know: First - Medicare is not free. Of the 4 parts, Part A - Hospital Insurance - is the only one that normally has no premium. Parts B, C and D have premiums that vary. (Illustration: Image or chart of: Part A - Hospital Insurance (hospital care; physical therapy) Part B - Medical Insurance (doctors, lab tests, wheelchairs) - Part C - Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) Part D - Drug Coverage (Prescription bottle).
Second - Enrollment is not automatic - you have to sign up for Medicare benefits. The exception is for those already receiving Social Security benefits. If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically receive Medicare Parts A and B.
Third - Late enrollment can mean expensive, and permanent, premium penalties. You have 7 months, starting 3 months before your 65th birthday month, to sign up penalty-free. Fourth - Medicare covers a lot, but not everything. Services like long-term care, dental and vision care are not covered. People often purchase additional private coverage for these types of services. And fifth, if you’re rich you’ll pay more. High-income seniors pay surcharges on premiums for both Parts B and D.
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