A good practice to get into at the beginning of each year is to take a little time and do some annual Medicare housekeeping. The following tips are also helpful if you have recently turned 65 or retired and you’re in first year on Medicare.
Whether you have Original Medicare, Original Medicare with the addition of a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan, you are offered a yearly wellness exam. Don’t forget to schedule this! The earlier in the year, the better! This is not only important for your general health but will also help make your overall healthcare run more smoothly. If you happen to have a Medicare Advantage plan that requires referrals for specialist visits, you might be able to get any anticipated referrals taken care of at this initial appointment with your primary care provider. For instance, if you know you need to see your cardiologist at least two times a year get those referrals while you’re already in your PCP’s office. You can also find out what preventative care services and screenings you should take advantage of this year. Medicare covers the following screenings along with many others – prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, mammograms, depression, diabetes – the list goes on. Getting into the habit of scheduling these Medicare housekeeping “peace of mind” tests at the beginning of the year will make sure that it doesn’t slip your mind.
Complete list of screenings can be found by clicking here.
If you are brand new to Medicare or have never taken care of this in the past, you might want to consider filling out an Authorization Form to allow family or friends to call Medicare on your behalf. You must give prior permission in writing for someone to be given access to your personal health information. You can “revoke” permission or change the individual listed as authorized at a later date if you’d like. It’s just important to make sure you take care of this before it’s needed. Find the authorization form by clicking here.
A convenient tool for those enrolled in Original Medicare or Original Medicare plus a supplement is MyMedicare.gov. By signing up, you will be given access to a convenient, online service that puts your personal Medicare information at your fingertips anytime day or night. After you sign up at Medicare.gov you can begin using the site’s services by completing an “Initial Enrollment Questionnaire” that will ensure your bills are processed correctly with Medicare. With the click of their “Blue Button” you can easily download and save your health information and files to your computer, tablet or mobile device or print off an “On the Go” report to take with you to doctor appointments. A few other things the site conveniently keeps track of is your Part B deductible status and a record of preventative services available to you.
Recent enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan, Supplement or PDP also means that you will have new cards arriving in the mail. Make sure you remember to take these along on your first visit to your PCP and to any visit with a new doctor. Your doctor’s office will want copies of the cards on file and this will ensure there is no confusion when it comes to billing.
At the beginning of the year, try to get your medication prescriptions filled early. Getting this taken care of early will make sure that you are made aware of any formulary changes in your plan. You should receive a notification of changes in your insurance company’s drug list if it affects you, but in case you missed it or it hasn’t made it to your mailbox yet you will at least be aware of the situation before it becomes a problem.
There are a few Medicare housekeeping items to tick off every year you’re on Medicare to ensure smooth sailing. Hopefully addressing these issues when you first sign up for Medicare will help eliminate any bumps you might run into down the road, but if you haven’t done all of these yet, making it a practice to do some of these things every year will keep things running smoothly.