Medicare Enrollment Mistakes And Other Hazards To Avoid


You’ve heard the song “It’s Not Easy Being Green”, it can also be said that it’s not easy turning 65!  As momentous as that time of life can be, most seniors are unprepared for leaving their employer medical plans at work and making decisions about new Medicare coverages in a very complicated, changing insurance marketplace.

Inevitably, these first-time challenges coincide with a flood of direct mail, phone calls, and continuous TV advertising to create even more confusion.

In the midst of climbing the Medicare learning curve, avoiding enrollment mistakes and other hazards is very important.

Here are key mistakes to avoid:
  • Missing enrollment for Medicare at the right time:  Failing to enroll when you’re first eligible can lead to late enrollment penalties and higher monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient services.
  • Missing a special enrollment period:  If you’re still working past 65 and have employer coverage, you can delay Part B without penalty.  However, once you stop working or lose that coverage, you must sign up during the special enrollment period to avoid late penalties.  Medicare does not count retiree health insurance or COBRA as job-based coverage.
  • Triggering a lifetime penalty:  Not enrolling in Medicare Parts A, B, and D or Medicare Advantage during the initial eligibility period can result in lifetime penalties, particularly for Part B, where you pay an extra 10% for each year you delay.
  • Overlooking annual coverage reviews:  Since Medicare plans and conditions change annually, it’s crucial to review your coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period or Open Enrollment Period to ensure it still meets your needs and is cost-effective.
  • Choosing a Medicare plan without prescription drug coverage:  Failing to enroll in a Part D plan can leave you without coverage for medications, which can be costly and eventually lead to a lifetime late enrollment penalty.
  • Missing an open enrollment period:  Overlooking an enrollment period can result in penalties and missed opportunities to enroll in certain plans
  • Not seeking help:  Given the complexities of Medicare, consulting with experts or counselors can help optimize your coverage.
  • Not understanding how Medicare coordinates with other coverage:  It’s important to know how Medicare works with any current coverage you have to avoid gaps or overlaps.
  • Not checking the formularies of available drug plans:  Ensuring that your medications are covered by your plan’s formulary can prevent unexpected costs.
  • Signing up for automatic renewal without reviewing annual changes:  Plan benefits and costs can change annually, so it’s important to review your plan’s benefits and costs each year.
  • Responding to flashy advertisements:  It’s important to research and understand the details of a plan rather than being swayed by marketing
  • Making financial moves that increase your Medicare premiums:  Since certain income levels can result in higher Part B premiums, it is important to be aware of how your financial decisions in one year may affect what you will be paying to Medicare a couple of years later.

These are some of the key enrollment issues and hazards that can affect the value and cost of Medicare benefits for those turning 65 and later in their years as a Medicare beneficiary.  Advice and assistance from a certified Medicare expert will help a senior who is turning 65 to make well-informed, timely decisions about Medicare protections.

Contact CPS Medicare Advisor, Daniel E. Griset, CLU, at (949) 225-7144 or for assistance navigating your client through the Medicare space.