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  • Writer's pictureHarry N. Stout

167- Is Medicare Free? Three Things You Should Know About Medicare

Written by: Michele Burkholder, Founder of The Burkholder Team

One of the biggest concerns for our aging population, is how they will cover their medical costs. Medicare is currently available when you turn 65 (earlier if you have a qualifying disability). In particular, women make up a majority of Medicare recipients and that percentage continues to increase as we age. Most people think that signing up for Medicare will solve their medical expense issues. However, it’s not quite that simple.

We will answer the top 3 questions we receive about Medicare. When will you become eligible for Medicare, what does it cover (and doesn’t), and what does it cost?

When do you become eligible for Medicare benefits?

  • You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B at Age 65 if you are receiving Social Security benefits.

  • If you are not taking Social Security benefits at age 65, you’ll have to apply for Medicare on the Social Security Administration website (

  • The initial enrollment period is three months before the month of your 65th birthday and extends 3 months after. For example, if you turn 65 in April, your enrollment period is January through July of that year.

What does Medicare cover?

  • There are 4 “parts” of Medicare - Part A = Hospital Insurance (covers hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, home health care and hospice care) - Part B = Medical Insurance (covers doctors’ visits, outpatient procedures, preventative services, diagnostic test, and durable medical equipment) - Part C = Medicare Advantage (offered by Private Companies) - Part D = Prescription Drug Coverage (optional)

  • What is NOT covered? - Long-term care, dental care, dentures, eye exams/glasses, hearing aids, acupuncture, routine foot care, to name a few.

What does Medicare cost?

  • Part A is free if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, if not there will be a monthly premium for coverage. For those who need to buy coverage, it could cost up to $471.00 per month.

  • Part B is based upon your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your federal income tax return from 2 years ago. For 2021, it will be based upon your 2019 tax return. In 2021 the base premium starts at $148.50 monthly with a maximum premium of $504.90 per month at the highest income level. The premium is deducted from your monthly Social Security income, or billed separately if you are not collecting Social Security.

  • Part C provides all of the benefits of the original Medicare Plan, but adds additional benefits such as vision, dental, hearing aids and prescription drugs. The cost is based the amount of coverage you select.

  • Part D must be purchased separately from as a stand-alone insurance or part of a Medicare Advantage Plan.

  • Parts B and D will impose a late penalty premium if you don’t sign up when you are first eligible.

At the very least, Medicare coverage will cost you $148.50 a month in 2021. This does not include deductibles and out of pocket expenses. For more information, please visit the official Medicare website, It also offers many valuable resources for finding the right Medicare coverage for you. You may also find information on covered procedures and doctors in your network, as well as compare procedure costs and more.

Michele Burkholder is a member of The Burkholder Team. For Educational Purposes Only – Not to be relied on as financial, tax, or legal advice. All investing involves risk and no investment strategy can assure a profit or protect against a loss in a down market. Life Insurance is subject to certain costs, limitations, terms, and conditions not outlined here. All guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

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