Turning 65 is a big life event, and thousands of baby boomers are doing it every day.
Here’s what you need to know right off the bat:
- You must be 65 to enroll in Medicare—your spouse’s age doesn’t count.
- You may enroll in Medicare even if you’re not collecting Social Security yet.
- You may enroll in Medicare even if you work past age 65 and have employer coverage, or if you are 65 and have coverage through your spouse’s employer.
When to Enroll in Medicare
Your first chance to sign up for Medicare is called your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). It happens around your 65th birthday and lasts a total of 7 months. It includes your birthday month
plus the 3 months before and the 3 months after. It’s best to sign up early to avoid gaps in coverage and late enrollment penalties.
What’s Part A?
Part A covers hospital stays
What’s Part B?
Part B covers physician fees
What’s Part D?
Part D covers prescription medications
What is Part C or An Advantage Plan?
Part C or an Advantage plan allows you to get your coverage directly from private insurance companies. This includes Part A and Part B and is equivalent to original Medicare.
What is Medigap or Supplemental Plans?
Medigap or supplemental plans often help fill the holes or gaps that original Medicare does not cover. These may include: co-pays, coinsurance and deductibles.
What happens if I fail to sign up during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)?
If you don’t sign up during your initial enrollment period or when your job-based coverage ends, you will pay a penalty that will raise your premiums for Medicare Part B and Part D for the rest of
your life. Every year you delay signing up for Part B, your monthly premium rises by 10%. For Part D, the penalty is 1% for every month’s delay. So a year’s delay would add 12% to the monthly drug premium base.
Don’t rely solely on advice from your spouse or close friends. You need to look at your own medical needs and consider working with an independent Medicare professional who
understands all the plans available to your in your area.
Remember, the cheapest price is not necessarily the best for YOU . Also, what your spouse or best friend has may not be the best fit for you and your budget. The cheapest premium might
not provide you with the cheapest overall plan. Be sure to work with an independent Medicare professional in your area and ask questions.