What is it about making a common mistake that drives us crazy? Is it that we think we should be smarter than everyone else? Partially, the other reason it bothers us is that common mistakes are also avoidable ones. When it comes to your health insurance, mistakes are not an option, especially when you are getting into your retirement years. However, the truth is that common mistakes are usually made because they are the most understandable to make.
We all have tried to sign up for health insurance on our own, only to find that we have little to no idea what we are doing and what we need to do. It’s the same as getting your first credit card or applying for your first mortgage. With experience comes understanding but if you are new to it, how do you avoid making mistakes?
Common Enrollment Mistakes Made
The easiest way to avoid making mistakes when you enroll in Medicare is to know what the most common ones are. However, the first and most common mistake made during this time, especially with people who are new to the experience, is that they commonly try to work with a single provider. While you may be comfortable with your provider from having coverage with them in the past, they may not be offering you the best option or pricing right now. That’s why having options is always a major advantage. Here are some additional mistakes to try and avoid:
- Waiting until the last minute: There are specific times of the year when you can enroll in Medicare. This window is available to all who are interested in the service and want to take advantage of it. However, there is a process for signing up and you need time to go over your options, what’s available to you and what’s your best course of action. These decisions need to be made with time to consider each one and that’s why waiting until the last minute is never the best way to go.
- Thinking it’s simple: Is it easy to enroll in Medicare on your own? That question is different for everyone based on their familiarity with these processes and knowledge of the healthcare services. For most people, however, enrolling, especially the first time, is very difficult and somewhat confusing. You have to remember, Medicare is not like the health insurance you’ve had throughout your working life where you have one package that covers everything. You will have multiple plans and supplements to choose from and you can enroll in multiple packages at once as well.
- Trying to do it online the first time: People are just learning how to enroll online and while this is a great new option, it is never recommended for people signing up their first time. Instead, it’s always recommended that you work with a licensed and trained advisor. Because of the information that must be provided and processed, along with the decisions you have to make, working with an advisor is recommended as it will eliminate common mistakes made throughout enrollment.
- Trying to enroll on your own: Not only is working with an advisor a smart move but they recommend that you include anyone in the process you trust to assist you with your planning including friends and family. Having someone else available to assist you with this process ensures you have someone who can ask questions, keep track of important information and more.
- Forgetting what’s actually covered: Original Medicare will give you a wide range of coverage options. However, you are not going to have options like prescription drugs and dental services covered under this plan. Instead, you will have to add supplements to your coverage and that’s where working with different providers comes into play. Each provider will have its own plans and rates for you based on a variety of variables.
- Waiting until retirement to enroll: Americans are working longer and later into their lives than expected. While most plan on retiring at some point before the age of 70, many are finding it too expensive to do so. Some actually have health insurance under their current employer and therefore are unaware that they are still eligible to enroll in Medicare, even while still working and still having coverage.
- Expecting it to be completely free: Your original plan will be free. However, if you want prescription drug options or other types of plans, you will have to cover a monthly premium. This is where working with an advisor can also be a big advantage as they have the ability to get dozens of options available to you immediately so that you can compare each one, including price.
- Canceling current coverage: Do not cancel your current coverage until you speak with your advisor. Even if you are fully enrolled, you want to make sure that you have transitioned with your medical care providers, pharmacies and so forth. Canceling your current health insurance early may create a lapse which is why you want to wait before cutting off your current options.
A popular misconception about working with advisors is that it will cost you money. That is not true and in fact, a big reason why so many make the mistake of trying to enroll on their own. When you call a provider yourself, you are only working with an advisor who represents that individual company. When you work with an independent advisor, they are working with several providers which means they have the ability to help you select the best option available to you based on price.
Keeping costs down during retirement is something millions are learning about, especially with inflation causing prices to soar. If you are not sure about something with your current coverage, have questions about signing up for Medicare or are not sure when open enrollment is, then you need to talk with an advisor so that you are making the right choices and selecting options that give you the advantages you want and can utilize for years.