Whether you’re new to Medicare, getting ready to turn 65, or preparing to retire, you’ll need to make several important decisions about your health coverage. If you wait to enroll at a later date, you may have to pay a penalty, and you may have a gap in coverage. Use these steps to gather information so you can make informed decisions about your Medicare:
There are 4 basic parts of Medicare that help cover specific services. See “ABC’s of Medicare” below.
There are only certain times when people can enroll in Medicare. Depending on the situation, some people get Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) automatically and other people have to sign up for it. In most cases, it depends on whether you’re getting Social Security benefits. The first time you can enroll is called your Initial Enrollment Period. Your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period usually:
If you don’t enroll when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty, and you may have a gap in coverage if you decide you want Part B later.
Most people should enroll in Part A when they turn 65, even if they have health insurance from an employer. This is because most people paid Medicare taxes while they worked so they don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A. Certain people may choose to delay Part B. In most cases, it depends on the type of health coverage you may have. Everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B. The premium varies depending on your income and when you enroll in Part B. Most people will pay the standard premium amount of $134 in 2017.
If you decide you want Part A and Part B, there are 2 main ways to get your Medicare coverage— Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO). If you choose Original Medicare you will likely want additional coverage, like a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) and Medicare prescription drug coverage and Note, Medicare Supplements Plans do not include prescription drug coverage. If you choose a Medicare Advantage Plan it will likely include a prescription drug plan as part of the plan known as MAPD. Most people who are still working and have employer coverage don’t need additional coverage. Learn about these coverage choices.
Some people automatically get Part A and Part B. Find out if you’ll get Part A and B automatically. If you're automatically enrolled, you'll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of disability. If you don't get Medicare automatically, you’ll need to apply for Medicare online.