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> Six Common Mistakes People Make When Planning to Enroll in Medicare

Medicare is a vital component of many Americans' healthcare planning as they approach retirement age. It provides essential coverage for medical expenses but navigating the Medicare system can be daunting. Unfortunately, mistakes in the planning process can lead to unnecessary expenses and gaps in coverage. Here are some common errors to avoid when preparing for Medicare.


1. Missing the Initial Enrollment Period

Medicare eligibility begins three months before your 65th birthday and extends for three months after it, providing a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Failing to enroll during this window may result in delayed coverage and lifetime late enrollment penalties for Part B and Part D plans. It's crucial to mark your calendar and sign up within this period unless you have qualifying coverage elsewhere.


2. Not Understanding the Different Parts of Medicare

Medicare is divided into multiple parts:

  • Part A covers hospital stays and is usually premium-free if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working.
  • Part B covers doctors' services and outpatient care and requires a monthly premium.
  • Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is an alternative to Original Medicare offered by private insurance companies that often includes additional benefits.
  • Part D covers prescription drugs.

Failing to understand the differences can lead to choosing the wrong type of plan for your needs or missing out on necessary coverage.


3. Overlooking Medigap Policies

If you opt for Original Medicare (Parts A and B), a Medigap policy can help cover costs such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. However, not enrolling in a Medigap policy during the open enrollment period – which starts the month you are both 65 and enrolled in Part B – can lead to higher premiums or denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.


4. Ignoring Your Prescription Drug Needs

Skipping Part D can be a costly mistake if you take medications regularly. Even if you don't currently use prescription drugs, enrolling in a Part D plan when you're first eligible can protect you from future costs and avoid the Part D late enrollment penalty.


5. Underestimating Costs

While Medicare can significantly reduce your healthcare expenses, it does not cover everything. Deductibles, copayments, premiums, and services that are not covered can add up. Make sure to budget for these out-of-pocket costs.


6. Thinking Coverage Is the Same Nationwide

Original Medicare is generally consistent across the United States; however, Medicare Advantage Plans can vary greatly in terms of cost, coverage, and availability depending on where you live. Additionally, not all healthcare providers accept all Medicare plans, so check with your preferred doctors and hospitals to ensure they accept your chosen Medicare plan.



Preparation is key to successfully navigating Medicare. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can make informed decisions about your healthcare coverage in retirement. Always check the latest information from official Medicare resources or consult with a Medicare specialist to tailor your choices to your specific needs and circumstances. Remember, small oversights can lead to significant consequences, so take the time to understand Medicare thoroughly before making any decisions.


Jeff-Trombly_web.pngJeff Trombly 

Senior Portfolio Manager and Medicare Specialist

Office Phone: 603.640.2733


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