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7 Most Common Questions About Medicare

It’s common to have questions as you become eligible for Medicare. We have answers.

Senior couple walking their dog in park

As you become eligible for Medicare — generally at age 65 — it is common to have a lot of questions. Here are the answers to the seven most frequently asked questions we get about Medicare and Medicare Supplement plans.

When can I enroll in Medicare?

Many people enroll at age 65 — with your enrollment window being three months prior to and three months after your birthday. However, Medicare has many enrollment periods and rules about enrolling and making changes to your coverage. Knowing this information can help you avoid enrollment penalties and lapses in coverage. Read this summary about when you can enroll in Medicare.

What are the different types of Medicare?

There are four main parts of Medicare. The federal government offers Medicare Part A, which provides hospital coverage, and Part B, which provides physician coverage. Parts A and B are often referred to as Original Medicare.

Medicare Part C is Medicare Advantage, which bundles all of your coverage together into one plan, which is then administered by a private company. Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage.

Do I have to enroll in Medicare at age 65?

If you are still working and your employer provides you with health insurance, you can defer enrollment in Medicare — likely with no penalty. However, if you’re not covered by another plan, you may risk penalties later if you don’t enroll at age 65.

If you are still working, you can evaluate the difference between the premiums you pay for your employer’s health insurance plan compared to what you’d pay for Medicare. Medicare Part A provides hospital coverage with no premium costs to you. You can enroll in Part A without enrolling in Medicare Part B, which provides coverage for doctor visits but requires a monthly premium that is based on your income. You may want to wait to enroll in Part B until you are no longer working or your income is lower.

Do I need a Medicare Supplement plan?

While Medicare provides basic coverage, it often doesn’t include all the benefits you may need.

Medicare pays 80% of the bills for medically necessary care. You pay the remaining 20% as well as the cost of prescription drugs and certain services like eye exams. Also, unlike traditional health insurance plans, the 20% that you pay has no limit — putting you at financial risk. Medicare Supplemental insurance plans can strengthen your coverage by filling these policy gaps and minimizing your financial liability.

Medicare Supplemental plans are offered by private firms. Every insurance company should be offering the same products because the federal government has standards for supplemental insurance plans. The difference lies in cost, service, reliability and added value such as fitness programs or other benefits.

Will my Medicare Supplement plan work out of state?

BCBSND’s two most popular Medicare Supplement plans, F and G, allow you the freedom to see any health care provider in the United States regardless of if the doctor accepts Medicare. If your medical treatments are Medicare eligible, BCBSND will cover the excess charge — even if you go out of state for the winter or enjoy traveling year-round. Plan F is no longer available for purchase (as of January 1, 2020); however, if purchased before that time, members are grandfathered into that plan.

Will you drop me or increase my premium if I use the plan a lot?

No. Your coverage is guaranteed to be renewed as long as you pay your premium, and you won’t get singled out for illness or injuries.

If I don’t like my plan, can I switch?

The short answer is yes. However, it is important to enroll in Medicare when you are first eligible as your health does not impact your application for coverage. Medicare Supplement plans can cost considerably more down the road, so it is wise to shop carefully when you are first eligible. The Medicare open enrollment period every fall applies to your prescription drug plan, not your Medicare coverage or your supplement coverage.

Learn more

BCBSND offers a variety of Medicare Supplemental insurance plans and prescription drug plans to strengthen your coverage and help pay costs not covered by Medicare.

As always, you can trust our experts to answer your questions about Medicare. Just contact our Medicare Solutions specialists online  or call 800-280-2583.