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!
The first key to a stress free enrollment is to start the process of learning about Medicare and applying for coverage well in advance of when you plan for your coverage to begin. 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. The first and one of the most important decisions you will make when selecting your coverage is deciding between your two primary coverage options: Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage Plans.
Medicare Supplement Plans
A Medicare supplement plan, also called a Medigap plan, covers the roughly 20% of health care expenses that Original Medicare leaves behind. These costs can include copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and excess charges. These types of plans help make your annual health care budget very predictable, allow you to see any doctor that accepts Medicare nationwide, and can significantly lower your out-of-pocket spending when you use your coverage.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage plans are a type of health plan offered through private companies that contract with Medicare to provide you with your benefits covered by Original Medicare. These plans work much like insurance during your working years with networks required for doctors and hospitals, deductibles, and co-pays. Medicare Advantage plans may also include vision, dental, drug coverage, and more.
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 in order to find the best fit for your needs and budget.
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.
Continue learning about Medicare in the next article: Medicare Supplement VS Medicare Advantage Plans
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