Senior Living Advice: Medicare Open Enrollment begins Oct. 15

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By Beth Dow, Certified Senior Advisor

The 2020 Open Enrollment Period for Medicare opens October 15 and runs through December 7.  If you or a loved one is new to Medicare, you owe it to yourself to find out all you can now so there are no surprises later.

Let’s begin with the basics.

Medicare Part A, which covers hospital stays, skilled nursing, hospice and some home health services, will cost up to $458 a month if you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, the standard premium is $252.  Keep in mind, this coverage comes with a $1,408 deductible per benefit period and there is a “cap” on the benefits received.

Medicare Part B covers doctor visits, outpatient services, and medical equipment.  The standard premium is $144 but may be higher depending on your income.  The deductible is $198.  After your deductible is met you will typically pay 20 percent of Medicare approved services.

There is also a Part D, that will pay for prescriptions and Part C – or a Medicare Advantage Plan – which will cover expenses that Part A, B and D do not cover.

There are several expenses that are not covered under Medicare.  Routine vision checks, eyeglasses, and contacts are not covered under Medicare.   Hearing aid costs are not covered.  Medicare does not pay for routine teeth cleaning, x-rays, fillings or root canals.  It does not pay for dentures, gum or oral surgery.  Custodial Care, which includes non-medical home care, assisted living and nursing home care, is not covered by Medicare. And neither are chiropractic treatments nor acupuncture.

If you are spending your “golden” years traveling, you should also be aware that Medicare does not cover you when you are outside of the United States  There are Medicare Advantage Plans that will cover emergency costs outside of the United States and you can purchase a Medigap Policy that can help pay up to $50,000 of medical expenses while you are outside of the U.S.

One last surprise to be aware of.  If you are held in the hospital under observation and then require rehabilitation, Medicare will not pay for your rehab.  You must be admitted to the hospital for 3 days for your Medicare to kick in for the rehabilitation.  Just because you spend the night in the hospital, does not mean you have been admitted.

Spend October learning the facts and finding out what plans will work best for you.  You will be making decisions that you have to live with for a year.  Make the best educated decision for you and your loved one.  If you would like additional information and guidance, contact GeorgiaCares at 866-552-4464 #4.  When you call this number, a certified Medicare counselor will help you with your Medicare questions.

Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd, Geriatric Care Manager and Certified Senior Advisor. Contact her at [email protected].

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