Carla Fried: Medicare -- what they don't tell you

Carla Fried, on

Published in Business News

In less than 15 years, Americans 65 years old and older will outnumber Americans under 18.

If you’re one of millions rounding the bend toward 65 in the next decade or so, getting up to speed now on Medicare's intricacies will help you avoid costly mistakes. To get you started, here are more nuanced takes on five truisms about Medicare.

—“Once you turn 65, your healthcare expenses are covered by Medicare.”

What they don’t tell you: Medicare covers a lot, but most enrollees still pay plenty in premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

To be fair, Medicare doesn’t hide this fact, but neither is it well explained across the various pieces of Medicare.

For instance, most people pay a monthly premium for Medicare (Part B). The lowest premium in 2021 is $148.50 per person per month. Most everyone pays this — except lower-income enrollees — regardless of whether they choose Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. Your Part B premium could be higher, based on your adjusted gross income.


There are also deductibles, copays and coinsurance to contend with. Peter Stahl, a certified financial planner specializing in retiree healthcare, recently estimated the per-person, monthly out-of-pocket costs this year are near $500.

—“Medicare offers broad healthcare coverage.”

What they don’t tell you: Not as broad as you might think.

The program is for older Americans, but there is no long-term care coverage.


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