Medicare: The Government Program Americans Love

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Americans always seem to have a lot to say about certain government programs. One conversation that almost everyone wants to join in on, though, is Medicare, which grew from $7.5 billion to $925.8 billion in spending in 2020, according to Statista.

Medicare’s popularity was highlighted in the 2020 election campaign when some primary candidates campaigned for turning the program into a national “Medicare for All” health care program, arguing that too many Americans lack sufficient coverage and cannot afford high prices charged by drug and insurance companies. In contrast, those opposed said it would cost too much and would have to be funded with higher taxes. Moreover, many saw the elimination of the health insurance industry as causing massive unemployment and leaving Americans with little to no choice.

The open enrollment period for Medicare begins October 15, and for many who plan to join Medicare at the typical age of 65, their concerns are much more down to earth. Natalina DeMeis, Vice President of Business Development at Barnum Financial Group, holds regular seminars for those approaching the Medicare years. During these sessions, Natalina covers the necessary steps to take and choices to make.

“Understandably, just going through the choices and grasping the different segments of Medicare can be time consuming and a chore,” she says. “At the outset, I often run by people the different parts of Medicare, so they have a broad understanding.”

Natalina urges people who have questions about Medicare not to dial any of the numerous 800 phone numbers that dot the internet. These are for-profit organizations that are just looking for business from you. Instead, she recommends calling Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE because the staff is well-informed and helpful. She also recommends a call to your Barnum Financial Services Advisor who is knowledgeable, certified to sell Medicare plans, and can help you make some of these decisions.

As for the most popular question, Natalina says she hears most often, “I’m turning 65. What do I need to do?” The answer is not as simple as it may seem. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re under 65 and already collecting Social Security income benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B which cover hospitalization and non-hospitalization events, respectively. The latter could include visits to a physician and MRIs, for example.
  • If you’re covered under a spouse’s employer plan, you may not need Part B and can fill out a form to let Medicare know to cancel Part B.
  • If you’re turning 65 and need health insurance, you should apply for Medicare online here three months before the month you turn 65.
  • If you’re working and are covered under your employer’s health insurance plan, you do not need to do anything.
  • Once you decide to end your employment after age 65, there are specific time frames that must be observed. Double check these dates with a Medicare representative or your financial advisor.

Many people want to enroll in Medicare Part A because there is no cost. However, if you are enrolled in an employer’s High Deductible Health Plan and are contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA), do not apply for Medicare Part A because there can be tax consequences.

The comments above are aimed at helping people properly enroll in Medicare. There are many other aspects, such as drug plans and enhanced programs, that can provide more services at a cost. We hope you will join us for upcoming webinars or one-on-one consultations.