Your 65th Birthday Is Coming Up. Now’s The Time To Enroll In Medicare.
It wouldn’t be accurate to say that you’ve spent your whole life preparing for Medicare. After all, Medicare has had little if any relevance to you as your health insurance coverage came either through your employer’s plan or through individual coverage you purchased on your own. But now, as you are about to turn 65, Medicare will soon become a big part of staying healthy and addressing your healthcare needs.
But given that you’ve probably spent no time learning how this unique and vital program works, you need to quickly get yourself up to speed on what Medicare is (and isn’t), how it works, and what steps you need to take to enroll in coverage
Medicare is a federal program that pays most – but not all – healthcare costs for Americans 65 or older and those under 65 with certain disabilities. Medicare eligibility is unrelated to your income or assets. That distinguishes it from Medicaid, a state and federally funded program that provides financial assistance and medical care for low-income individuals.
Medicare will cover most of your medical expenses, but you will still face out-of-pocket costs. As with your current coverage, you will probably still need to pay deductibles, premiums, copays, and coinsurance for the care you receive. However, enrolling in a private supplemental insurance plan — also called a Medigap plan — can help you fill these holes in Medicare coverage.
Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D
To understand the different types of Medicare coverage, start with the ABCs – and Ds. Medicare has four separate parts, each of which addresses different healthcare needs and involves unique issues:
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, some home health visits, skilled nursing facility stays, and hospice care.
Medicare Part B
This Medicare program covers physician’s visits, preventive care services, outpatient care, and some home healthcare visits.
Medicare Part C
Medicare Part C refers to Medicare-approved private health insurance plans called Medicare Advantage. These plans combine coverage for doctor visits, hospital care, and other medical services in one comprehensive plan that provides all of Medicare Parts A and B benefits except for hospice care.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D provides coverage for outpatient prescription drug costs through private plans that contract with Medicare. These include stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) and plans covering prescription drugs as part of broader coverage (MA-PDs). Part D participation is optional.
Just like most of us receive an AARP card when we turn 50, a Medicare card is a gift you’ll receive as you approach your 65th birthday. Generally, you can enroll in Medicare:
• When you turn 65, regardless of your spouse’s age;
• Regardless of whether you are receiving Social Security benefits yet; and
• Even if you continue working past age 65 and keep your employer coverage or have coverage through your spouse’s employer.
Medicare enrollment is automatic for some people, but not for everyone. The government will automatically enroll you in Medicare Parts A and B, and send you a Medicare card, if:
• You are under 65 and have received disability benefits for 24 months.
• You are turning 65 and are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.
• You have Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and start getting disability benefits.
Unless you are in one of those categories, you will need to enroll yourself in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Typically, your IEP starts three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after your 65th birthday. While you can still enroll in Medicare after your IEP ends, you may need to pay some penalties. As such, it is in your best interests to enroll in Medicare during your IEP.
Contact Every Way Health To Learn More About Medigap Coverage
If you have questions regarding Medicare generally or would like assistance in choosing a Medicare supplemental insurance plan, please get in touch with Every Way Health at 877-460-3943.