About to turn 65
If you're close to 65, and you aren't
receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits, you will
have to sign up for Medicare A and/or Part B during your Initial
Enrollment Period (IEP). This enrollment period begins three months
before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three
months after your birth month (seven months).
If you enroll during the first three months of
your enrollment period, your coverage will begin sooner than if you sign up
later in the enrollment period. Enroll by visiting your local Social Security
office or calling Social Security at 800-772-1213.
If you miss your
Initial Enrollment Period
If you miss your
initial enrollment period for whatever reason, you can sign up for Medicare
Part A and/or Part B during the General Enrollment Period that
runs from January 1 through March 31 of every year. You might have to pay a
late enrollment penalty for Part A and Part B if you did not sign up when you
were first eligible.
Decide Between Traditional and Medicare
One of the first
things you'll need to do when deciding what coverage is best for you is
carefully to consider whether "Original Medicare" (Parts A and B) or
Medicare Advantage (Part C) coverage better meets your healthcare needs.
When you enroll in
Medicare for the first time, you'll automatically be signed up for Original
Medicare if you do nothing.
Once you enroll in
Medicare and decide to switch to another coverage option, like a Medicare
Advantage plan, you can do so during the annual "Annual Enrollment Period"
that runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. In addition, there's a
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) that runs from January 1
through March 31 every year. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may
switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or go back to the Original Medicare
during this period.
About Medicare Advantage Plans
All Medicare Advantage
plans must include everything that Original Medicare covers. In addition, all
Medicare Advantage Plans limit out-of-pocket costs and, most also include Part
D drug coverage. Several Medicare Advantage plans often offer lower out-of-pocket
costs and low copay than Original Medicare. a few Medicare Advantage plans may
also charge a monthly premium and may require members to see healthcare
providers in the plan's network.
Apply for Extra Help
If you have limited income
and resources, you may qualify for the Federal Extra Help program, which helps
people cover their Medicare Prescription Drug Plan costs. If you're already
enrolled in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or a Medicare Savings
Program, you automatically qualify for Extra Help. If you're not enrolled in
those programs, you can apply by contacting the Social Security Administration.
Medicare Choices Every Fall
Every year, during the
Annual Enrollment Period, check whether your current plan is still the best fit
for you. If a new plan better meets your needs, you can switch to another
option during the Annual Enrollment Period. You may also switch during the new Medicare
Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31.
Sign Up for Part D Even if You Don't Take Many
If you're planning to
enroll in Original Medicare, consider signing up for Part D (Medicare Prescription
Drug plan) right from the start – even if you don't take many medications right
now. If you wait, you may end up having to pay a late enrollment penalty when
enrolling in Part D at a later time.
Avoid Part B late
If you didn't sign up
for Part B when you're first eligible, your monthly premium may go up by 10%
for each 12-month period you could've had Part B but didn't sign up. In most
cases, you'll have to pay this penalty as long as you have Part B. And, the
penalty increases the longer you go without Part B coverage.
Usually, you don't pay
a late enrollment penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign
up for Part B during a Special Enrollment Period. For example, If you have
health coverage through your or your spouse's employer, you may be able to
defer enrolling in Part B without paying a late enrollment penalty. You must
have proof of creditable coverage.
Attend a Medicare 101
session to learn more about how Medicare works and what to do to avoid paying
late enrollment penalties for the rest of your life.
Click HERE to see the list of Medicare 101 sessions in your
area and to RSVP.
Ready to sign up for a
plan? Compare Your Medicare Options
You may click HERE to go to compare plans
available to you. You will be leaving our website; the new site has its own