Those approaching age 65 should begin their homework to determine which type of Medicare plan will work best for them. Your Medicare election may be more complicated than you realize, as there are several different options depending on your unique situation.
First, you must choose between traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan. Traditional Medicare may be more expensive if you don’t already have supplemental insurance coverage through an employer. Supplemental insurance will pay for those costs that traditional Medicare does not, such as your copay in a rehab facility. Medicare Advantage is less expensive for those who do not have and cannot afford supplemental insurance, as you will receive more coverage for less money than having just traditional Medicare alone. Traditional Medicare with a Supplemental Plan normally gives more coverage, but at a greater cost.
You should also research which prescription drug plan will work best for you. Most people must choose a Part D prescription drug plan because Supplemental Plans no longer cover drugs; only those who enjoy an employer retirement coverage that includes drug coverage do not need a Part D plan. For example, retired NC State Employees or Retired Federal employees enjoy drug coverage in their medical plan and do not need a Part D plan. However, this is the exception to the rule. It’s important to make your election based on your particular needs. Most plans vary based on which drugs are covered, the amount of coverage, and how much you will pay for the plan.
Seniors have the opportunity to participate in Medicare Open Enrollment until December 7th. This allows those already enrolled in the Medicare system to change their Medicare and drug plan for the year 2015. The changes that you elect now will go into effect January 1st, 2015.
With the beginning of Medicare Open Enrollment comes an increase in the number of SCAMMERS who prey on seniors. Each year, scammers pose as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in an attempt to gather seniors’ personal information and bank account numbers. Scammers will call your home claiming that they need to verify your personal information in order to send you a new Medicare card. They will request to verify your personal information, such as your social security number, banking information, etc. Today, criminals have increased access to technology, allowing them to appear as legitimate government agencies on your caller ID. It’s important to know that you will never receive a legitimate call from a government agency. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, hang up immediately.
Those in their late seventies or older should be particularly wary of these types of schemes, especially if they are living alone. Those over the age of 78 who live independently are the primary targets of scammers. It’s important to put protections in place for yourself, such as using a trusted child as an advisor for all major financial decisions. Never give out your personal information to callers over the phone, and beware of any “free” offer that sounds too good to be true. For more information on scams in our state, go to the website of the North Carolina Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division. Everyone needs this valuable information.
If you have questions about Medicare benefits, Medicaid, or Veterans benefits, consider W.G. Alexander & Associates – we offer a unique blend of asset protection, Elder Law and estate planning. You can also attend our free seminars, learn more through our website at www.wgalaw.com, or call us at (919) 256-7000.
Attorney Bill Alexander discusses these issues and more every Tuesday morning on W.G. Alexander & Associates’ radio program, “Asset Protection Today,” on TalkRadio 850 WPTK (AM). Be sure to listen from 9:00-10:00 AM.