medicareIf you’re a baby boomer just now ready to enroll in Medicare, you may be surprised when you start looking at what health care can cost AFTER you sign up for Medicare.  What’s the most outrageous expense?
It may be the Part A deductible you have to meet if you need to go to the hospital.  For one thing, next year that deductible is $1,184.  To add insult to injury, this is not an annual deductible.  If you fall and break your hip, for example, you’ll need to spend that much before your hospital care will be covered.
Then, you might need a little recovery time in a nursing home before you’re up to independent living as that heals.  Up to 20 days in a skilled nursing facility is covered by Medicare after you’ve been an inpatient for at least three days at the hospital.
There’s a catch, though.  You can be in the hospital without being officially admitted.  If you’re held for observation, even overnight, you are not covered by Part A.  You’ll be covered by Part B, which is very different.
For starters, there’s no big deductible.  The Part B deductible for 2013 is just $147, and it’s annual.  That may sound better, but Part B does not pay for 100-percent of the bills after you’ve met the deductible like Part A.  It’s pays for 80 percent, which leaves you with 20 percent of the cost.  And, hospital rooms aren’t cheap.
But, let’s look at what happens if you are admitted and Part A covers 100 percent of the cost after you meet its deductible.  Once you’ve been at home for 60 straight days, the Part A deductible resets to $0.  If you get hurt of sick badly enough to need hospital care in the same year, you owe the $1,184 deductible again.
Not only does Medicare not limit the number of times that happens, but it also has no limit on your annual out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance.
Get a Medigap Plan to Fill in Medicare Holes
It’s pretty obvious that with Medicare alone, there are plenty of gaps that need to be filled.  A Medigap plan can help with co-insurance, co-pays, and deductibles.  Take a look how a Medigap plan can significantly cut your out-of-pocket expenses.

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.