Avoid these common Medicare mistakes

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2023 | Medicaid/Medicare

Figuring out how to pay for your long-term care needs can be daunting. This is especially true given that most people don’t adequately plan for these expenses and are, therefore, taken aback when an emergency arises requiring extensive long-term care.

But even if you’ve been thinking about how to navigate MassHealth or Medicare to your advantage, the complexities of these systems can leave you wondering if you’re doing the right thing. In order to protect your or your loved one’s interests as fully as possible, you need to be aware of some of the common mistakes that people make when engaging in their long-term care planning so that you can work to avoid them.

Commonly made mistakes when planning for Medicare

This week, we want to look at some of the mistakes that people make when turning to Medicare for assistance. Here are some of the most common pitfalls that you’ll want to avoid:

  1. Enrolling in Medicare at the wrong time: Once you enroll in Medicare, you’re going to have to pay a monthly premium. But you may not need full Medicare coverage when you first turn 65. This is because some individuals continue to receive coverage from their employer, which may be a cheaper option or even provide greater coverage. Of course, you’ll want to be careful here, as you don’t want to end up with a lapse in coverage that leaves you unprotected.
  2. Misunderstanding Medicare Advantage plans: Medicare Advantage plans can provide you with additional protections not offered through traditional Medicare plans. However, you have to continue to pay your Medicare premium in addition to any premiums imposed by the Medicare Advantage plan. If you don’t ensure that you make your premium payments, you could be left without the coverage that you need.
  3. Going out of network to obtain care: If you do have a Medicaid Advantage plan, you need to make sure that you’re receiving care in-network if you want to ensure that you have coverage. If you don’t, you could end up facing extensive medical bills that will eat into the savings that you intended to leave to your children and other loved ones.
  4. Not signing up in time after leaving your job: If you’re still working when you turn 65 and then leave employment, you have eight months to sign up for Medicare. If you miss that timeframe, you won’t be able to obtain protection until the next enrollment period. This can leave you susceptible to extensive medical expenses.
  5. Picking the wrong Medigap coverage: If you think that you need supplemental coverage, you should choose your plan wisely and do it quickly. If you don’t, you may be denied that additional coverage, and even if you obtain it, you may face higher costs.

Competently navigate your planning

There’s a lot that goes into planning for your long-term care needs. While that certainly includes figuring out how to choose an appropriate form of care or even the right nursing home, it also includes figuring out how to pay for routine medical care and medication.

The process and its complications can feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to try to figure out all the nuances on your own. Attorneys who are experienced in elder law can help you develop the plan that you need to ensure that your medical needs are protected.

So, if you’d like to learn more about what you can do to ensure that your future and your assets are protected, now may be the time for you to reach out to an elder law attorney with whom you feel comfortable.