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Medicare Myths: 5 Common Medicare Misconceptions

Posted on March 11, 2022 by Larry Johnson

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The Awkward Mythology of Medicare

Most everyone is aware of what Medicare is in a basic sense. For instance, you may know that it’s government-supplied insurance for seniors, but you may not know more beyond that. Few choose to delve beyond that basic knowledge.

That’s what makes many of the Medicare myths floating around out there easy to believe.

While Medicare misconceptions aren’t new, the internet allows them to be amplified like never before. Myths regarding everything from the cost of Medicare to what type of program Medicare truly is run rampant these days. Because it’s so easy to find Medicare misconceptions, it’s tough to sort what’s true from what’s false.

There are plenty of Medicare myths out there, but we’ve opted to cover five of the biggest ones. Read on to learn more about five of the most common Medicare misconceptions.

"Myth #1: 'You Get Medicare For Free When You Turn 65" text over image of senior man thinking

1: “You Get Medicare for Free When You Turn 65”

This is one you’ve probably heard most of your life. A question on the minds of most when it comes to Medicare happens to be “Is Medicare free?” The most common of Medicare misconceptions is that, yes, the program is free to all once you turn 65 years of age.

The myth of “free Medicare” is one of the most prevalent – and believable – Medicare myths around because there is some partial truth to it. Medicare is divided into parts, with Part A being premium-free for most who enroll when it’s time to do so. The other parts of Medicare, however, are not free and require payment of a premium.

A long-standing variation on this myth is that everyone gets Medicare Part A for free, while you have to pay for Part B. Out of all of the Medicare Part A myths and Medicare Part B myths that you’ll find, this variant of the “free Medicare” myth is the one you’ll see the most. Like anything else, the truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, everyone pays for Medicare Part B, and while Part A is free for most, it isn’t free for all.

To determine whether or not you may receive Medicare Part A for free, visit the official Medicare website. There, you’ll find all of the necessary requirements for receiving Part A at no cost to you.

"Myth #2: 'Everyone Pays A Fixed Rate For Medicare" text over image of senior woman looking at sky

2: “Everyone Pays a Fixed Rate for Medicare”

Like anything, there are opposing myths and misconceptions regarding the overall cost of Medicare. One of the most common Medicare misconceptions is that it is a “one size fits all” type of program. Going along with that belief, Medicare myths veer wildly between Medicare being totally free and Medicare requiring everyone to pay a fixed rate for coverage. Yes, you’ll have to pay for some Medicare coverage, but it won’t be a fixed rate.

The Medicare program is divided into four parts:

  • Medicare Part A
  • Medicare Part B
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)
  • Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)

With Medicare Supplemental insurance (Medigap) offered to fill what certain parts of Medicare may not cover. The only part of Medicare that most individuals can get premium-free is Part A. All other parts have a cost. Let’s do a quick breakdown of what you may expect to pay for Medicare.

  • Part A: Not everyone receives Medicare Part A for free. If you have to pay a premium for Part A, you can expect to pay either $274 or $499 monthly this year. The figure is dependent on how long you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes.
  • Part B: Everyone who opts in for Medicare Part B is required to pay a monthly premium. How much you pay each month for Medicare Part B depends on your yearly income. In 2022, the premium cost per month for Part B starts at $170.10.
  • Part C: Medicare Part C, or “Medicare Advantage”, is offered by independent health insurance providers. The amount you pay for Part C depends heavily on your area and the provider you choose.
  • Part D: Like Medicare Part B, the monthly premium you pay for Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) depends on your yearly income.
"Myth #3: 'If You Have Original Medicare Only, It Covers Everything" text over image of concerned senior man thinking

3: “If You Have Original Medicare Only, it Covers Everything”

Among the most widespread Medicare Part A myths and Medicare Part B myths is that once you enroll in Original Medicare, all medical needs are covered. While Original Medicare covers many medical issues, it doesn’t cover everything.

For instance, let’s say you or a loved one is in need of long-term care. It’s a common misconception that Original Medicare will cover the cost. In reality, long-term care, also referred to as custodial care, is not covered by Original Medicare. This means that Original Medicare will not cover:

  • The cost of housing in a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home.
  • The cost of non-skilled personal care, such as hiring a home health aide.

There are several other services that Original Medicare will not cover, such as:

  • Most dental care.
  • Eye exams in relation to obtaining a prescription for glasses.
  • The cost of dentures.
  • Cosmetic surgical procedures.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Hearing aids and fitting exams.
  • Routine foot care.

If you’re wondering whether or not Original Medicare will cover a certain medical service, it’s best to research and learn whether or not it will. Otherwise, you’ll likely be taking on a great deal of unnecessary costs.

"Myth #4: 'People Living Longer Are Going to Bankrupt the Medicare System" text over image of contemplative senior man

4: “People Living Longer are Going to Bankrupt the Medicare System”

This is but one of many Medicare myths that has been around almost as long as the system itself has. Opponents of Medicare love to use it to demonstrate the fragility of a government-run healthcare system. The logic is that if people continue to outlive life expectancy, they will become a drain on the system by essentially drawing more than Medicare can pay.

In fact, the opposite is true. As individuals live longer, the costs of end-of-life care are dropping at dramatic rates. Much of the expense that you’ll take on with age will likely involve long-term care, whether it’s in a facility or at home. As we mentioned earlier in this blog, Original Medicare does not cover long-term care of any sort.

What does this mean? It means that, in some ways, people actually age out of the Medicare system. In essence, this actually saves Medicare a great deal of money as it no longer covers much of the cost when long-term care is involved.

"Myth #5: You Can Enroll in Medicare at Any Time" text over image of senior man smiling at beach

5: “You Can Enroll in Medicare at Any Time”

The last of the Medicare myths and Medicare misconceptions that we’ll be tackling today is probably the most prevalent. You’ve likely heard some companies wrongly mention that you can enroll in Medicare at any time. This isn’t just one of the longest-standing Medicare Part A myths or Medicare Part B myths. It’s a myth that covers any Medicare plan out there.

Like any health insurance plan, you have to wait until an enrollment period rolls around in order to enroll in any part of Medicare. Each plan has its own enrollment periods and deadlines, with Original Medicare and Part D carrying lifetime penalties if you miss enrollment deadlines. Enrollment periods for Part C Medicare Advantage plans through private providers will likely be different from Original Medicare or Part D, so it’s best to stay vigilant and watch out for Open Enrollment periods.

Another variation of this Medicare myth pertains to age. Some claim that you can enroll in full Medicare at any age with no preconditions. This variation is confusing Medicare and Medicaid, which are two completely different systems. While you can typically enroll in Medicaid only at the age of 65, Medicaid is also available to low-income individuals who are:

  • Pregnant 
  • Age 18 or younger (21 or younger in some states)
  • Blind and/or disabled in any way
  • Leaving welfare and need health coverage
  • A family with children under 18 with limited resources

Medicare is only available to those aged 65 or older, with exceptions made for younger individuals with disabilities or those with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Unless you meet these standards, you are not eligible for Medicare.

Always Check the Facts

It’s easier now than it has ever been to find information regarding Medicare. It’s just as easy to find misinformation regarding Medicare. When you’re reading information of any sort about Medicare plans, benefits, or enrollment, it’s important to always check the facts. Otherwise, you may just find yourself falling for one of many common Medicare myths!

Don’t let Medicare myths and Medicare misconceptions trip you up in your search for a Medicare plan that works for you. Remember that reliable information will always examine Medicare issues and information from an impartial point of view with no empty promises of free care or infinite open enrollment. By checking your sources when you’re seeking out information on Medicare, you’ll be on the road to finding a Medicare plan that meets your needs in no time.

About the Author

Larry Johnson

Larry is a content writer with several years of experience in creating informative content for a variety of industries on topics that matter. He is a 2009 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

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