What is Medicare?
Medicare is a government funded healthcare program designed to provide special coverage for people meeting certain criteria – you must be 65 years or older, or if you are younger than 65, you must have certain disabilities, or have End-Stage Renal Disease.
The two components of Medicare are Part A, your hospital coverage, and Part B, your medical insurance.
Enrolling in Medicare
Enrollment in Medicare Part A and B is automatic if you are currently receiving Social Security benefits. There is no reason to contact anyone.
Three months prior to your coverage starting, you will your receive notification of your enrollment, your Medicare card, and a letter explaining how Medicare works. If you get Social Security retirement benefits, your package and card will come from the Social Security Administration (SSA) – Medicare Interactive
If you aren’t collecting benefits, you’ll need to actively enroll.
When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. This includes the 3 months, prior to the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and the 3 months following. It is important that you sign up during this period to avoid a premium penalty.
My best advice is to start the enrollment process as soon as possible. That starts with determining the correct plans for your specific needs.
At the time you sign up for Part A and Part B (what is referred to as Original Medicare), you will have other options to consider. These plans do not cover every medical need or condition.
You’ll want to think about enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) offered through private companies to supplement your coverage. These will cover services such as wellness programs, and hearing and vision services.
There is Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D) and Medigap (included with Medicare Advantage plans, but also available separately).
This leave you with options:
- Enrolling in Original Medicare
- Enrolling in Original Medicare AND add Part D
- Enrolling in Original Medicare AND add Medigap coverage
- Enrolling in Original Medicare AND add Part D AND Medigap coverage
- Enrolling in Original Medicare AND select a Medicare Advantage plan
If you choose to add supplemental coverage to your Original Medicare, you’ll need to determine WHICH plans and from WHOM.
Private insurance companies offer these additional plans. This means there can be differences in what is covered, premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Additionally, not all plans are available in every area!
You can choose to enroll online, by visiting your local Social Security office, calling Social Security at 800-772-1213, or via the mail, determining WHAT plans you should enroll in is more complicated. This is a relatively straightforward process, but there is plenty to consider. My best advice is to get help BEFORE you are eligible. Determine the right plans for your needs.
Work with a broker when enrolling in Medicare
You’ll pay exactly the same rate for your insurance plan using a broker as you would directly. Working with a broker ensures you get the right coverage for YOUR needs at an affordable cost – and that is done without any fees or cost to you.