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6 Medicare Mistakes You Should Avoid at All Costs

Do you know about these Medicare mistakes?

Once you turn 65, you are eligible for Medicare. This is a service offered by our state that covers most of your healthcare expenses. But what are the most common Medicare mistakes people make?

This is an important question because the Medicare rules are complicated, and this is why there are so many Medicare mistakes people keep making. The unfortunate thing about this is that the mistakes are not like regular mistakes. They can be quite costly mistakes, and we are sure you want to avoid them.

It is important to make all the right choices and fill in the gaps; otherwise, you might end up with various high premiums and many out-of-pocket costs.

Read on and learn what the most common medical mistakes are that you should avoid making. Never miss those valuable tax breaks, and never get stuck with penalties that you will carry with you for the rest of your life!

medicare mistakes
Photo by fizkes from Shutterstock

1. Having the same Medicare Part D plan as your spouse

The Part D plan is the one that takes care of your medication. What you should know about this plan is that if you and your spouse buy the same plan, you will not get any benefits. This is one of the most common Medicare mistakes and one that you should avoid if you don’t want to pay more money for no reason at all.

So, there are no spousal discounts, and you and your spouse don’t take the same medication. Drugs are different for most people, and even if you have some common health problems, you will still have different medications. For example, one plan may be perfect for your needs, while another may be suitable for your spouse.

What you can do is go on the Medicare Plan Finder website and see what you will have to pay from your pocket for each of you. Try to get your medications from the same pharmacy since there are only a few pharmacies that will give you the best rates. Be careful, and avoid paying more when not necessary.

2. Not switching Medicare Advantage plans when needed

From October 15 to December 7, when enrollments are open, you have the chance to switch between Medicare Advantage plans. Not doing this is one of the most common Medicare mistakes, and we will tell you exactly why.

Even more, between January 1 and March 31 of every year, there is an additional enrollment period that lets you do the exact same move; you can also do the Advantage plan and return to the Original one. If you choose to return to the Original Medicare plan, you can also join a new and separate Medicare Part D plan.

But you need to know that there are also other time frames that let you switch between plans, even if it’s not an active enrollment period. For example, if you are moving to a new address and that address is not in your service area, you are allowed to switch to another similar plan in the new area at any time during the year. Keep in mind that this is available only for the Medicare Advantage, which has a five-star quality rating.

3. Keeping Medicare Plan D on autopilot

From October 15 to December 7, every year, you can enroll in Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your options and decide if you want to switch something up or not.

Sometimes the doctor will change your medication, or maybe all the drugs you used to take are now available as generics and you can buy them much cheaper. This is why you should always have updated information, and if you think that a new plan makes more sense for you now, just change it.

Avoid this Medicare mistake, and always change your plan if you need to. Since the costs can differ from year to year, you need to be prepared and take action when needed. Plans come with their quirks. For example, for some plans, you will need to go to some specific drug stores, and others can be even more useful and boost premiums.

Take a step back and compare all of the plans that are available in your area. Once again, check how much your medications will cost on Medicare Plan Finder, and then use this to guide yourself in choosing the best plan possible.

4. Forgetting to sign up for Medicare

If you are receiving Social Security benefits, you are safe. You will automatically enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B as soon as you turn 65. All good. But if you don’t have Social Security benefits, this is where people make one of the biggest Medicare mistakes and simply forget to enroll in the program.

To be eligible for enrollment, you need to be at least 64 years and 9 months old. If you are this age, you can go to the website and simply sign up online. You also have plenty of time to enroll—7 months. Three months before you turn 65 and another three months after you have turned 65.

One thing you should know is that you can only enroll in Part A if your spouse, who is employed, has coverage for Part B through their employer. You are also covered, and in this way, you can delay enrollment in Part B.

To get more information, check out the Social Security Administration’s Applying for Medicare Only. Here, you can find all the things you need to know.

5. Going to out-of-network clinics

One option to get a Medicare Advantage plan is to get coverage from a private network. And one of the Medicare mistakes that comes with this is that people go to hospitals and doctors that are out of the network.

If you choose to use such a plan, you need to stick to the plan’s network of hospitals and doctors. This is the only way you will get the lowest. If you go to out-of-network clinics, you might end up paying more than you’ve paid in the first place.

Similar to any PPO or HMO, you have to guarantee that your medical professionals, hospitals, and other services remain covered year after year.

If you are not pleased with the plan that you have, remember that you can switch it up. Check online, compare the prices, and try to find the best plan that suits your needs.

medicare mistakes
Photo by Rix Pix Photography from Shutterstock

6. Increasing your Medicare premiums by making the wrong financial choices

Usually, most people who have the standard premium for Medicare Part B will pay $174.70 per month. This is the price for 2024. But things are a little bit different if you are a high-income earner. For Part B, there is something called IRMAA, or income-related monthly adjustment amount, and you will also need to pay that.

In 2024, if you are single and have an adjusted gross income of more than $103,000, you will need to pay $244.60 per month for your Part B plan. For joint filers who earn more than $206,000 as adjusted gross income, they will need to pay $594.00.

Besides this, there is also a high-income surcharge that applies to your Part D plan, which means you will need to pay more for your premiums, from $12.90 to $81.00 per month.

Don’t make these Medicare mistakes, and try to avoid withdrawals from tax-deferred retirement accounts or rolling over a basic IRA to a Roth. These can make you the subject of surcharges, and you can take care and prevent them.

To keep within the limits, consider spreading your Roth conversions across several years or withdrawing funds from a Roth IRA instead of simply tax-deferred accounts.

These are the Medicare mistakes you should avoid at all cost!

If you want to learn more about how to save money on health care, this book might help you: 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care: Tips to Help You Spend Smart and Stay Healthy

You should also read: 8 Things Medicare Doesn’t Cover

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