When first entering the Medicare journey, many people have preconceived notions about Medicare, what it covers, and what it costs. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about Medicare.

Misconception #1: Medicare is free.

 

Many people believe that since Medicare is a government program, it is free. However, there are multiple costs associated with Medicare including monthly premiums, an annual deductible, and coinsurance or copay costs. To learn more about the cost of Medicare, check out this article.

 

Misconception #2: Medicare will cover all my healthcare costs.

 

Even after paying a monthly premium and annual deductible, Medicare does not cover the cost of all healthcare services. Part B includes a copay that is typically 20 percent of total costs. In addition, some things not covered under Medicare include vision, hearing, and dental.

 

Misconception #3: I can enroll in Medicare at any time.

 

There are specific enrollment periods during which you can enroll in Medicare and you can only enroll during these time periods. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is your first opportunity to sign up for Medicare and is the seven-month period surrounding your 65th birthday. You can also enroll during the General Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31 every year, but you may incur penalties for enrolling during this period. If you work past 65, you can enroll during the eight-month period after you retire called a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Read this article for information on enrollment periods.

 

Misconception #4: I don’t need to enroll if I am still working and covered by my employer’s insurance at 65.

 

You might not need to enroll in Medicare if you are working past 65 and are covered by your employer’s insurance, but you also might need to enroll. If your company is smaller than 20 employees or your prescription drug coverage is not credible, you will need to enroll in Medicare. Not enrolling in Medicare when you are supposed to will lead to penalties that may continue for the rest of your life. Learn more about Medicare and working past 65 here.

 

Misconception #5: When I enroll in Medicare after I retire, my younger spouse will also be covered.

 

Medicare health plans are on the “individual market” for health insurance, which means they only cover individuals. With employer insurance, it is common that the healthcare plan will cover you and your spouse, but that is not true for Medicare. Therefore, if your spouse relies on you for healthcare coverage, it is important that you look for plans that will cover your spouse once you elect Medicare. For more information, check out this article.