You're turning 65, and are ready to finally take your pick of Medicare insurance plans. And, that's it! Right? Okay, so all of your Medicare insurance doesn't automatically kick in on your sixty-fifth birthday. That said, you've done your homework and are well on your way to getting coverage. You've checked your enrollment eligibility, decided what you need (Part A or Part B), filled out the application and chose your coverage. Now that the paperwork part is done, you're wondering, "What's next?"
It's time to put that plan into use. How? Take a look at the first steps that will get you on your way to using Medicare today (or, at least soon).
The "Welcome to Medicare" Visit
Congratulations, you're enrolled in Medicare! To introduce you to your insurance (and make sure that you're staying healthy), Medicare Part B customers are eligible for a free one-time-only preventative appointment. This isn't a visit to the doctor to check out a problem. Instead, it's more of a well-patient appointment. The doctor will take your health and social history, do a basic vision test, measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure and do a body mass index calculation for you. During this appointment you doctor may also talk to you about planning preventative services such as vaccinations or screenings.
It may seem like everything is online now. That's because much of it is. You medical records, billing information, insurance coverage details – these are all available on the Internet. Your doctor's office or medical center may even have their own patient portal that allows you to check your appointments and test results all without having to pick up the phone and call anyone. But, even if they don't, MyMedicare.gov offers plenty of options to keep on top of your health. After signing up, you can access medical claims, check your deductible (for Part B), view eligibility information and get more details on your plan.
Understanding What You Owe
Medicare may sound like Medicaid, but these two types of coverage are not the same. Medicaid offers free insurance to low-income and other qualifying individuals. Medicare often requires some out-of-pocket expenses. Depending on which part or parts you have, you may need to pay premiums, deductibles and copayments. The specific amount depends on a number of factors, including your income and the plan that you choose. Even though you'll most likely have to pay for some insurance-related expenses, these are typically lower than what you'd pay for a traditional (i.e., non-Medicare) plan and are definitely lower than what you'd pay without insurance.
Medicare insurance plans provide a cost-effective safety net that can keep you at your healthiest. Whether you have Part A or B, both or decide to add on more, this type of coverage ensures that you get the help you need to pay for medical expenses when you're sick and when you're healthy!