Navigating the complex healthcare system of the United States can be extremely difficult, and the challenge is enough to make some people want to give up. Perhaps the most frustrating part about it is trying to figure out what your Medicare insurance plan's rates will be. There are many factors that might change your Medicare insurance rates. Here are few of the major reasons you might spend more on a plan.
- When you enroll. Depending on when you enroll, Medicare insurance plans can be more or less expensive. Cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security or even new legislation can affect the premium you pay. For example, Medicare costs were set to go up in 2016 for beneficiaries who didn't collect Social Security. This increase only applied to new enrollees, so anyone who applied later was stuck with a higher rate.
- If you collect Social Security or are eligible for Medicaid. People who collect Social Security will see their Medicare Part B premium deducted from their Social Security benefits. Medicaid will also cover your Medicare costs.
- If you enroll late. This is a big one. If you enroll in a Medicare insurance plan late, you may suffer a penalty in your premium. This penalty piles up--10% for each year that you could have been enrolled but didn't, and it doesn't go away. Enroll in the program when you can!
- If you make too much money. Most people pay the normal premium for Medicare, but households that earn a certain amount of money will see their premium rates go up. This might not sound too difficult to understand, but keep in mind that the government looks at your tax returns from two years ago rather than the current year.
- Who is in the White House. Unfortunately, government-subsidized healthcare is an extremely political issue. Every election year (and even in between election years), there are debates about what to do with Social Security and Medicare benefits. Some presidential candidates have even gone so far as to support abolishing Medicare completely and replacing it with a privatized system. Of course, Medicare has stuck around for 50 years, and it doesn't seem like it's going away anytime soon.
None of the situations above even consider what type of plan you want. Make sure you shop around for a plan that fits you and your budget and get professional help if you need it. And remember--enroll when you can to avoid those late penalties!