Medicare and turning 65.

Almost 65? Find out what you should know about Medicare.

Fun fact: 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65 between now and 2030. Chances are you are one of them. You generally become eligible for Medicare at age 65 and delaying your enrollment can result in penalties. It’s best for you to learn more as soon as possible.

There are four major parts of Medicare.

  • Part A covers hospital stays
  • Part B covers physician fees
  • Part C also called Medicare Advantage and that is offered by private insurance companies and combines the benefits of Parts A and B and usually D
  • Part D covers prescription medications

Medicare Supplements (also known as Medigap) offer additional coverage to individuals enrolled in Parts A and B.

When am I eligible for Medicare? The Enrollment in Medicare begins three months before your 65thbirthday and ends 3 months after your birthday month. You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B if you are currently receiving Social Security benefits the month you turn 65. If you are not currently receiving Social Security Benefits, you will need to sign up for Medicare by going to the Social Security website by clicking here or calling 800-772-1213.

What if I’m still working and have a group insurance plan? You might not need to sign up for Medicare Part B right away. Ask your employer whether the employer’s plan is the primary insurer. If Medicare ends up being the primary insurance instead of your employer’s insurance, you will still need to sign up for Part B to avoid a potential late enrollment penalty. If you are not going to sign up for Part B, you should still enroll in Part A. This may help pay for some of the costs that might not be covered by your group health plan.

During your initial enrollment period, it is extremely important that you sign up for Medicare Part B especially if you do not currently have an employer or group insurance plan. You can, however, delay Part B without penalty if you have other coverage. Please make note

If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B right away, you’ll likely be subject to a penalty. The premium will go up 10 percent for every 12-month period that you were eligible for part B and not enrolled, unless you were enrolled in other creditable coverage in that time. You must wait for the next general enrollment period to enroll, which runs between January 1 and March 31 of each year.

What are Medicare Supplements? Under Medicare you are still responsible for 20% of most costs, plus copayments and coinsurance for things like hospital stays. Most of what is not covered by Medicare can be covered by purchasing a Medicare Supplement insurance policy from a private insurer.  If this is something you are interested in you can search online for a Medigap policy in your area at by . Or if you would like a free quote for a personalized plan in your area click here to visit our free Medigap Quote engine.

What is Medicare Advantage? Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is offered by private insurers. You must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to be able to join a Medicare Advantage plan. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan will provide all your Part A and Part B coverage, and most will also provide prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage could also possibly provide additional coverage, such as dental, hearing, vision, and/or health and wellness programs. These plans typically require you to get all your care through that plan and may have specific networks of doctors you must use or other limitations.

What is Part D?  Part D offers prescription drug coverage through plans offered by private insurers who are contracted with Medicare. If you’re enrolling in a Medicare Supplement or just keeping Original Medicare, you will likely want to enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan to cover your prescriptions. If you don’t enroll during your initial enrollment period and you don’t have other creditable coverage, you may be subject to a penalty for each month you were without coverage. Every month you delay enrollment past the initial enrollment period, your Medicare part D premium will increase at least 1 percent. If you had drug coverage through another source, like an employer or retiree group plan that is at least as good as Medicare’s, you may be exempt from these penalties. If you need a prescription drug plan you should visit the website by clicking here.

Here are some other links that you might find helpful:

The Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare

The Medicare Rights Center

National Council on Aging – My Medicare Matters

Free Medigap Quote Engine