Medicare helps you get the coverage you need, but you should expect to have some cost-sharing. If you choose Medicare Part A and Part B, (Original Medicare), you’ll find gaps in the coverage. Many people enroll in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, (MAPD), or a Medicare Supplemental plan and a stand-alone Rx plan to help pay for their medical and drug costs, and benefits that aren’t covered by Original Medicare.
As you get close to Medicare eligibility, (generally at age 65 – younger if on disability for 24 months, and older if currently receiving creditable coverage on an employer group plan), it is good to get accurate information about the time limitations for your effective dates to avoid penalties. Good resources for this is your local Social Security Administration office, Medicare.gov, or your HR supervisor at work.
If you’re turning 65, you have an opportunity to enroll in a Medicare plan. You can enroll three months before the month you turn 65, the month of your birthday and three months after. If you wait to enroll in a plan, there is a chance you’ll have fewer plan choices, and you may have to pay a Late Enrollment Penalty.
If your health care needs change over time, so can the health plans you choose. You’re not locked into one plan permanently. You’ll have an opportunity to change plans at least once a year.
Here are some things to know about the “age 65” rule.
If you have questions about when you will be eligible for Medicare, visit www.medicare.gov, or call your local Social Security Administration office for more information.
The Social Security Administration handles most of the paperwork for joining Medicare. The first letter you get in the mail about Medicare will probably come from Social Security. If you’re drawing Social Security benefits when you turn 65, Social Security will automatically enroll you in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you are not drawing Social Security, you can elect to have your Part B become effective online, but contract Social Security first to see if that would be applicable in your case.
Social Security can also help you find out if you’re eligible for Extra Help with the cost of Medicare and/or prescription drug coverage.
As you make your decisions about Medicare, keep your current health coverage in mind. This could be retiree health coverage from your former employer or your union, if you’ve retired.
If you’re still working, you may have health coverage from your current job. Or you may have purchased your own health insurance.
You’ll need to find out whether you can keep any coverage you currently have, and what your costs might be. You may have more choices available to you than the standard choices described in this guide.
Explore your options with someone who’s familiar with the details of the coverage you have now. If it’s coverage from an employer or a union, you can start with a human resources manager or a benefits specialist. Or talk to customer service at the insurance company that provides the plan. Do your research well. In some cases, if you keep your current coverage and wait until later to join Medicare, you may have fewer choices and pay more.
This content is republished with permission from medicaremadeclear.com