Even if you are healthy enough to pass up Medicare Part B when you turn 65, give that choice serious thought. Yes, you will have to pay premiums for Part B, but if you don’t enroll in Part B when you are first eligible, you’ll face a late enrollment penalty if you want to enroll later.
If you plan to rely on Medicare Part A to handle your big hospital bills and take care of an annual doctor visit yourself, you may be surprised at how high your out-of-pocket costs for hospital care can be with Medicare.
Medicare doesn’t cover inpatient hospital care until you meet its Part A deductible. That’s $1,100 in 2010, but that’s not an annual deductible. There’s a separate deductible for every benefit period. A benefit period begins the day you enter the hospital or a skilled nursing facility. It continues until you have not received hospital or nursing facility care for 60 consecutive days. There is no limit on the number of times you may be required to meet the Part A deductible.
Medicare Supplement Insurance can reimburse you for the Part A deductible, but open enrollment for Medicare Supplement Insurance plans begin on the first day of the month when you are at least 65 and enrolled in Part B. With so many inflexible rules, not understanding all of the consequences of the choices you make when you turn 65, could cost you extra for many years. You can learn more about Medigap Insurance on our website.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.