Medicare is a national social insurance program that has existed since 1966. As of 2010 Medicare has covered over 48 million people. Even though the program is over 50 years old there is still a lot of important information that the average person does not know about. Below are five things that every American should know about Medicare. 

  • Qualifications for Medicare. In order to receive Medicare you must accumulate at least 40 work credits which is equivalent to working for about 10 years or you must be married to someone who is qualified for Medicare. Even if you do not reached the work credit threshold you may still qualify for Medicare but there may be aspects of the program that you would need to pay that you would not have had to pay for if you had reached the 40 work credit threshold.
  • Enrollment Deadline.  You can enroll in Medicare for a 7 month period that begins 10 months before you turn 65. Coverage can begin as early as the month in which you turn 65.
  • If you qualify for Medicare and do not participate you can be penalized. If you do not enroll in Medicare when you are eligible you may have to pay higher premiums when you do join. For example for Part B medical coverage your premiums could be 10% more expensive for every year you were not on Medicare when you were eligible.
  • Every year you have the option to switch your coverage. Generally one can choose to change different parts of their medicate plans during different periods of the year. For instance you can switch from Medicare to Medicare Advantage from October 15th to December 7th. It is important not to just stick with one plan for your whole life but rather evaluate plans every year and see which plans fit you based on your changing needs.
  • Medicare does not cover everything. Medicare generally doesn’t cover eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids or dental. In addition, not every doctor takes Medicare. By going to the website you can see what doctors are covered under your plan or you can contact doctor’s directly to ask whether they take Medicare

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