October 8, 2019 — The results are in from the 555 people (so far!) who took the Medicare IQ test. We are thankful to all those intrepid souls: we are impressed with your solid grasp of most Medicare essentials. The test represents good timing, because this year’s Medicare Open Enrollment period begins next week (Oct 15) and runs through Dec. 7. During this time you can freely change plans without losing coverage. Didn’t take the quiz yet – here is the link to the Medicare IQ Quiz.
For learning purposes here is a question by question review of the quiz, along the scores by question. We arbitrarily set a passing grade of 60%, but the average score was just over 71%. Almost everyone understood the basic questions, such as the difference between Part A and Part B of Medicare. But three questions in particular tripped up about half of the people taking the quiz. Those questions involved the fine points of when you can sign up for Medicare (Question 10), which Medigap or Medicare Advantage Plan has the smallest deductible and copays (Q 11), and what events are covered under a Special Enrollment Period (Q 12).
Question 1: At what age are you eligible to Medicare on your own earnings record?
Some 82% answered correctly that the age to do this is 65. Wrong answers were 62 and 66.
Question 2: True or False. Medicare and Medicaid are the essentially the same thing with similar eligibilities.
More people got this one right than any other question – 96%. Medicaid is for lower income individuals and Medicare is mostly for retirees – they are different programs in many ways.
Question 3: True or False. If your spouse is receiving Medicare you are also eligible to also receive Medicare based on his/her participation.
False, which was the correct answer, was chosen by 73%. A significant number chose the red herring answer, “only if your spouse is at least 62”.
Question 4: What does Medicare Part A cover?
The correct answer, which almost everyone (82%) got, was hospital related expenses.
Question 5: What does Medicare Part B cover?
Four out of five folks answered this one correctly, doctor’s fees and non-hospital related expenses.
Question 6: True or False. Everyone pays the same rates for Medicare Part B coverage.
Most people (82%) got this one (the correct answer is False). As your income goes up so does your Part B Medicare premium. In 2019 the standard Part B premium is $135.50/month for a couple with joint income under $170,000. But the premium rises gradually with income, going up to $460.50 for those with incomes over $750,000. See chart below.
Question 7: What are some good reasons for people to sign up for a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan?
A much smaller percentage of quiz takers got this one right – only 67% chose the correct answer (A & B): “(A) Medicare Parts A and B only cover about 80% of hospital and medical services” and (B) “Some Medicare Advantage plans have a zero premium”. C was an incorrect choice – your spouse will NOT get coverage from your plan.
Question 8: Which of these items can you NOT do during a Medicare Open Enrollment period?
The item listed that you cannot do during a Medicare Open Enrollment period is drop your A & B coverage and keep your other Medicare coverages. Parts A and B are the base upon which the other Parts build. But you can add, change, or drop Part D (prescription drug). You can also change from Medicare Advantage to Medigap (or vice versa). Almost everyone (86%) got this one correct.
Question 9. There are financial penalties if you sign up for Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) after you first become eligible.
We should not have been surprised that this was one of the harder questions on the quiz. That’s because your editor messed this one up – he signed up for Part D late (age 67), and as a result will pay an extra monthly premium for the rest of his life. Sign up when you are 65 and be smart (if you have coverage through your employer you can delay). Only 68% answered this one correctly (True).
Question 10. When can you sign up for Medicare, Medigap, or Medicare Advantage plans with no restrictions or issues?
This was, admittedly, a tricky question, designed to make sure that people understand that there are only certain periods when you can sign up for Medicare. If you miss one of those (like waiting more than 3 months after you turn 65), you will have to either wait for the next Medicare Open Enrollment period, or experience a qualifying event for a Special Enrollment period (like changing employers or moving out of state). Only 55% got this one, with 20% incorrectly choosing “any time after you reach eligible age”.
Question 11. Which of these Medigap plans have the least deductibles and co-pays (and generally the highest premiums)?
The purpose of this question was to create awareness that some of the key differences between Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans lie in their deductibles and co-pays. For example, some Medicare Advantage Plans (Plan C) have zero premiums, but they do have premiums and co-pays. The correct answer is Plan F, although it is being phased out (people who have it now can generally keep it). Only 44% got this one right.
Question 12: Which of these events would be covered under a Special Enrollment Period?
The correct answer was All of the Above, which only 42% answered correctly. Those choices included reaching Medicare qualifying age, moving out of state, leaving employer’s health plan, or becoming eligible for Medicaid.
What do you think? Do you still have questions about Medicare, like how to sign up or what is the best plan for you? Please use the Comments section below to ask or ask your questions.
For further reading:
Part 1: So You’re Turning 65: Here Is Your Medicare 101 Course
Part 2: “Topretirements Members to Washington: We Like Medicare, Please Keep It That Way“
Part 3: What to Do about Medical Insurance When You Retire Early
Part 4: Original Medicare Plus Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage: Which Is the Best Plan for Me
Part 5: What Is Medigap Insurance and How Can I Find the Right Policy for Me
When Can I Buy/Tips on Buying Medigap Insurance
Comparing Medigap Plans