When you the time comes for you to retire, do you think of enrolling in Medicare? Well, the majority of Americans do. After all, they are actually paying for the system, thus better make the most out of it. But the problem is Medicare can be complicated especially for seniors who have plans to enroll (Enrolling for your parents? Read more here) . In fact, many of them do not really bother to understand everything that comes with it until it’s too late. For instance, they are not even aware that not all of their health care costs will be covered by Medicare.

It is important to be diligent when it comes to saving for retirement but you also need to be sure that you are accounting for health care costs. Importantly, take some time to understand things such as the options you can choose from so you can avoid making the following mistakes.

Medicare Mistakes

  1. Failure to sign up because you are a veteran (if you are a veteran please see our page on Veterans with Medicare)

Health benefits are offered by the Veterans Health Administration to those who served in the U.S. military. Free care is provided at designated clinics, VA hospitals, and residential facilities. While the VA plans to expand care options, there may be instances when you do not have access to a VA approved center. However, Medicare may provide you with extra coverage to get the necessary care. Failure to sign up for Medicare in time could cost you in more ways than one.

2. Failure to sign up because you are overseas

If you are living out of the country for 30 or more consecutive days, and you actively receive Social Security benefits, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A but not Parts B or D. Please note however, that you may not be able to collect Social Security benefits in all countries.

3. Failure to sign up because you are still employed

Some seniors think that they do not have to sign up for Medicare while still employed because they have an employer-sponsored health plans. For some this may be true but not for all. If the company you work for employs less than 20 full-time workers, then you can expect that Medicare will hit you with late penalties when sign up.

4. Failure to sign up at age 65

You are eligible for Medicare when you turn at the age of 65. You can sign up three months prior and up to three months after your birthday. Missing the initial enrollment period means that you’ll be on the hook for late penalties (Medicare Parts A, B and D).

5. You assume that Medicare enrollment is automatic

If you are receiving Social Security when you turn 65 years old, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare (Parts A and B but not Part D). On the other hand, if you are not receiving Social Security benefits, be sure to enroll for all parts on your own.

These mistakes can be avoided if you make yourself proactive and informed. You can also seek help or advice from professionals to make better decisions about your Medicare enrollment.