Test reveals that a shocking number of pre-retirees don't fully understand Medicare

If you’re approaching retirement, chances are you can’t pass a simple four-question quiz on Medicare.

Sixty-five percent of individuals ages 60 to 64 who were put to the test failed, getting two or fewer questions correct. The online MassMutual survey polled 500 individuals this month.

In contrast, almost half of all adults — 47 percent — failed a quiz on Social Security that MassMutual released earlier this year.

The quiz highlights how much people still do not know when it comes to Medicare, said David Freitag, a financial planning consultant at MassMutual.

That needs improving, he said, because the individual decision regarding coverage is just as complicated as it is when it comes to Social Security.

“You almost have to have a custom-made suit or a custom-made dress for the Social Security decision,” Freitag said. “I think the same analogy can be extended to Medicare.”

Mark your calendar

Because there are penalties if you do not sign up for Medicare on time, you should circle a date on your calendar.

“If you miss the Medicare window, then you end up paying penalties for as long as you’re under the Medicare system, and those penalties can be severe,” Freitag said.

Missing the enrollment window on Medicare could trigger a 10 percent penalty every year for the rest of your life.

And if you miss the window on Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan, you will pay an extra 10 percent per month for the rest of your life.

You have a seven-month window near your 65th birthday to sign up — three months before your birthday, the month of your birthday and three months after that date.

“There’s definitely economic financial encouragement to make this date,” Freitag said.

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