While you may think you have plenty of time to figure it out at 64, not all enrollment is automatic. In fact, failing to enroll within the first months of eligibility can lead to penalty payments and gaps in coverage.
Don’t let enrollment sneak up on you. Find out what both turning 65 and Medicare have to do with you.
Enrollment in Medicare isn’t automatic but it is compulsory. Unless you began collecting Social Security when you turned 62, you’ll have to apply. Even if you’re already on Social Security, double check that everything’s in order before enrollment passes you by.
Medicare preempts your other insurance and becomes your primary insurer when you hit 65. This includes COBRA, private insurance, and retiree coverage.
Start the application process early. Consider it a 64th birthday present to yourself. Dealing with the government is specific and can take a long time.
Mistakes in the enrollment process can mean paying for unnecessary benefits or added expenses.
Even if you enroll in Medicare during your initial seven month enrollment period, you may still end up with gaps in your coverage. To help bridge that gap you can purchase Medicare supplement insurance. Supplemental insurance goes toward deductibles, co-pay, and coinsurance.
There’s also a Medigap enrollment period, which is different from your Medicare enrollment period. If you miss your chance to buy a Medigap policy, you may not qualify for it later.
Parts A Through D
There are four main parts of Medicare: Parts A, B, C, and D. It’s like the ABCs of adulthood.
Part A is hospital insurance. It’s the original Medicare. It covers inpatient stays, home health, and hospice.
Part B is medical insurance. It covers doctor visits and labs, outpatient and preventative care. Physical therapy and screenings are also under the umbrella of Part B.
Part C is combination coverage. Called Medicare Advantage, it covers everything in Parts A and B.
Part D is prescription insurance. The drug plan can be purchased separately or combined with other plans. It helps cover the cost of prescription drugs and also helps protect you from future price spikes.
How to Choose a Plan
Choosing a Medicare plan, like choosing any other insurance plan, depends on what your needs are and what you’re willing to sacrifice.
With Part A, Original Medicare, you’re given more freedom to choose your care provider. However, your out of pocket costs might be higher.
With Part C, Medicare Advantage, you may not get to keep your doctor. But you’ll pay less out of pocket, and you’ll have more hearing and vision benefits.
Are You Turning 65 and Medicare Ready?
If you’re turning 65 and Medicare isn’t on your mind, it should be! The enrollment period is limited, and the process is complicated. You’ll have to wade through the different parts of coverage and anticipate your future needs.
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