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The Truth Behind These 5 Common Medicare Myths

By Jagger Esch June 23, 2023 Health and Fitness

Navigating the complexities of Medicare can often seem like a daunting task, as there is a plethora of misinformation surrounding the topic. Like any government funded program, Medicare is subject to various misconceptions and myths that can lead to potentially harmful financial consequences.

Without reliable information, fully understanding your Medicare benefits and how Medicare works can be impossible. However, we are here to debunk five of the most popular Medicare myths and reveal the actual truth to help you better understand the Medicare program and make more informed decisions regarding your healthcare coverage.

Myth #1: Medicare Covers All Your Medical Expenses

One of the most pervasive Medicare myths is the misconception that Medicare provides comprehensive coverage for all medical expenses. However, this is not true. Medicare is sectioned into different parts, each covering specific services and leaving out-of-pocket cost-sharing for the beneficiary.

Original Medicare is made up of two parts: Medicare Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A covers hospital care, skilled nursing facilities, and hospice care, while Part B covers outpatient services like doctor visits, preventive care, and durable medical equipment.

However, Original Medicare does not cover 100% of these costs. Leftover expenses include deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Plus, certain services like dental, vision, and hearing care or prescription drug coverage are not included in Original Medicare benefits.

To cover these gaps, you may need additional insurance, such as a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap), Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C), or Medicare Part D plan.

Thus, while Medicare does provide great benefits, they are not 100% comprehensive and may require the enrollee to cover certain costs.

If you are an individual relying on Medicare, it is essential to understand the limitations and gaps in your coverage to avoid unexpected expenses. While Medicare offers valuable coverage, it does still leave you responsible for certain costs, making it vital to budget and plan for your healthcare needs accurately.

Myth #2: You Have to Be Retired to Enroll in Medicare

Contrary to popular belief, you are not required to be retired to enroll in Medicare. Eligibility for Medicare is primarily based on your age or specific medical conditions if you are below age 65.

Most individuals become eligible for Medicare at age 65, regardless of their retirement status. However, if you’re still working and have employer sponsored healthcare coverage, you may have the option to delay your Medicare Part B benefits without incurring a late enrollment penalty.

It’s crucial to understand your unique situation and consult with the Social Security Administration or a licensed Medicare professional before delaying coverage, as a late enrollment penalty can be detrimental to your financial stability.

Additionally, if you retire before age 65, you will not be granted Medicare until you can qualify based on your age. This means you will need to find insurance coverage between your retirement and Medicare eligibility. This coverage may be through COBRA, retirement benefits, the Marketplace, Medicaid, or another form of insurance.

While people may correlate Medicare and retirement, regardless of when you retire, your Medicare eligibility will never be affected by your retirement status.

Myth #3: Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplement Plans Are the Same

Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are two distinct types of coverage that serve different purposes. Medicare Advantage plans provide primary coverage to enrollees and are offered by private insurance companies approved through Medicare. These plans often include prescription drug coverage and may provide additional benefits like dental, vision, and hearing care.

On the other hand, Medicare Supplement plans work alongside Original Medicare as secondary coverage to help cover out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles and copayments. While both types of plans offer added benefits, it’s essential to understand their differences and evaluate which one best suits your healthcare needs.

Medicare Advantage plans can require you to stick to a strict physician network, require referrals when seeing a specialist, and can have higher out-of-pocket costs when compared to Medicare Supplement plans.

Comparatively, Medicare Supplement plans allow you to visit any doctor or hospital that accepts Original Medicare. Thus, no provider networks, regardless of the Medigap insurer you choose to enroll with.

Additionally, Medigap plans are standardized, meaning the benefits are the same from carrier to carrier, unlike Medicare Advantage plans that have varying benefits. Yet, Medicare Advantage plans tend to have lower monthly premiums than Medicare Supplement plans.

To choose the right plan type for you, you must fully understand the plan’s benefits and how they cover your needs.

Myth #4: Social Security and Medicare Are the Same Thing

Social Security and Medicare are often mentioned together, leading to the misconception that they are one and the same. However, Medicare and Social Security are separate programs with distinct purposes. The three core differences between Social Security and Medicare can be broken down into their purpose, eligibility requirements, and funding.

The purpose of Social Security is to provide income for retired or disabled individuals and their dependents, whereas Medicare is a health insurance program designed for individuals aged 65 and older or those with certain disabilities. Although both programs are managed by the Social Security Administration, they serve different functions.

Social Security eligibility is based on your work history and the number of credits you have earned by paying Social Security taxes. Generally, you will become eligible for full social security benefits between age 62 and 67, depending on your birth year.

Medicare eligibility is a bit different, though. For Medicare, the most common way to become eligible is to be 65 years old or have received Social Security disability for 24 months.

Lastly, funding for Medicare and Social Security differs. Medicare funding is provided through a combination of payroll taxes, monthly premiums paid by enrollees, and government revenue. Social Security, on the other hand, is funded primarily through payroll taxes and employer contributions.

Myth #5: I Only Need to Enroll in Medicare Part D if I Take Prescription Medication

While it’s true that Medicare Part D is specifically designed to provide prescription drug coverage, whether or not you enroll in the program is not solely based on whether you take medications.

Medicare Part D is optional, but it is highly recommended to enroll as soon as you are eligible to avoid future penalties. If you delay enrolling in Part D when you first become eligible, you may face a lifetime late enrollment penalty if you decide to enroll later when you do need prescription drug coverage.

Plus, you never know when you may be prescribed an antibiotic or more serious medication. Being prepared for this scenario can help save you hundreds of dollars on prescription drugs each month.

It’s crucial to evaluate your current medication needs and consider enrolling in Part D during your Initial Enrollment Period or when you no longer have credible prescription drug coverage.

How to Combat Medicare Misinformation

Misinformation surrounding Medicare can lead to misunderstandings and potential gaps in coverage, which may result in financial burdens. By debunking these common Medicare myths, we hope to provide clarity and understanding surrounding your Medicare coverage.

Staying up to date on important Medicare changes is essential to ensure you are always protected when it comes to unpredictable circumstances. Furthermore, always check the government websites and resources so your information is current and accurate.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What myths surrounding Medicare have you heard? Which ones have you believed? How did you learn they weren’t true? Where do you check the accuracy of Medicare related information?

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I got inundated with ads for Medicare. I was so overwhelmed that I decided to continue with my employer-provided insurance. Now it looks like I’ll face a penalty if I do enroll. I might as well stick with my current insurance. As for Rx meds, I don’t take any. I have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, but on wait and watch. I may never need treatment, but I’ve already decided to not go that route when/if the time comes. Would prefer to use supplements and vitamins.


Could you please precede articles such as this one (about Medicare) with a comment about to whom & which country the article refers?
Here, in Australia, we have a Medicare system, but it is VASTLY different to the one described.
Medicare here is not complex, does not have plans, covers all Australian citizens, & is funded by the government (through a tax levy).


You’re lucky! In the US, most programs are convoluted nightmares. Wish I could move to Australia!


Yes, we are very fortunate here. You are welcome anytime.😎

Sue Goodacre

I agree…and your suggestion should apply to all the articles, particularly any referring to anything controlled by specific Country laws and/or Government departments.


I’ve wondered which Medicare program to enroll in when the time comes. My mother is enrolled in original Medicare with a supplement. She’s been happy with it I believe but my god she pays a lot, even more than private insurance! However I am nervous about the greater restrictions with Medicare Advantage, which sounds exactly like regular insurance. Also I’ve read about all the fraud with it.

Any comments?


The Author

Jagger Esch is a Medicare expert and the founder, president, and CEO of MedicareFAQ. He has been working in the Medicare space for over 10 years. Jagger has a passion for sharing his expertise on Medicare to beneficiaries so they can be better prepared for health care costs after retirement. His YouTube channel features various videos that help Medicare beneficiaries discover all their options.

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