Almost 65? Reaching this milestone birthday might have you thinking about one major decision – enrolling in Medicare. Don’t go filling out that application on the government website just yet. Here are five things that you should consider before you join Medicare.
#1 Get Started Early!
Just as with any government program, you’ll want to start the process of applying for Medicare benefits early. You can apply for Medicare online if you are within 3 months of turning age 65. This enrollment window continues until 3 months after your 65th birthday. If you are retiring at 65, you will probably already be investigating Medicare along with your Social Security benefits. If your retirement age is 66 or 67, however, you might not be aware that you can still apply for Medicare at age 65. Make sure that you gather the information you need about Medicare beforehand so that you can take action as soon as your enrollment period starts. A great way to get started is by joining our Free Medicare Webinars that are designed to help make learning the basics easy for those who are new to Medicare.
#2 Working Past 65? You Can Delay Joining Medicare.
Just because you are almost 65 does not mean that you will retire soon. Increasingly, people are working past age 65. If you plan to continue working, you can still apply for Medicare Part A three months before your 65th birthday. Medicare Part A is hospital insurance that is offered to everyone with no premium, provided that you have worked and paid taxes for a certain period of time. What you will want to consider, however, is whether or not you will need to sign up for Medicare Part B, which covers doctors’ visits and other outpatient services for a premium.
If you have group coverage though your employer, you may not need to pay for Medicare Part B, but instead might want to apply for a special enrollment period (SEP) that will allow you to enroll at a later time. Discuss your options regarding your health insurance and Medicare Part B with your employer before making any decisions.
#3 Medicare Enrollment is Not Always Automatic
Whether or not you will need to apply for Medicare to start your Medicare benefits, or if you if you are set to be automatically enrolled, will depend on whether you are receiving your Social Security retirement benefits prior to turning 65.
If you are receiving Social Security benefits prior to your 65th Birthday then you will be automatically enrolled into Original Medicare.
If you are not receiving your Social Security benefits prior to your 65th birthday then you will need to manually apply for Medicare online at ssa.gov.
#4 Weigh Your Coverage Options
Medicare Parts A and B don’t cover all the health expenses you might encounter. You can stick with Original Medicare and take your chances on the extra expenses, or you can purchase additional plans to fill in the gap. Medicare refers to these types of plans as Medicare Part C. There are a couple of options to consider:
Medicare Supplement Plans
A Medicare supplement plan, also called Medigap, covers the portion of health care expenses that original Medicare does not. To get a Medicare supplement, you must already have enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.
Medicare Advantage Plans
When you enroll in this type of plan, an insurance company manages your Medicare to help keep costs down. You must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B to be eligible for an advantage plan. Many insurance companies also offer prescription drug coverage through advantage plans.
You can learn more about the differences between Medicare Supplement vs Medicare Advantage Plans HERE.
#5 Shop For Coverage The Easy Way
Not all Medicare Supplement and Advantage Plans are the same so it pays to shop around and compare plans based on several factors:
Price Level of Coverage
Network of Providers (is your doctor in your network?)
Extras, such as Dental Insurance or Reimbursement for Health Club Memberships.
As with most other types of products, insurance companies love to compete for your business and weighing all the choices can be confusing. When you are ready to compare plans and shop for your new Medicare coverage then give us a call and one of our licensed agents can make finding your new coverage simple and stress free! Let us do the shopping so you can make a well informed decision regarding your Medicare coverage.
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