Congratulations on reaching the age of 65! Enrolling in Medicare is an important step, and you'll want to make sure you do it in a timely manner. Here's a general guide on how to enroll in Medicare:
1. Know Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP):
- Your Initial Enrollment Period is the seven-month period that begins three months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65.
2. Medicare Part A & Part B:
- If you're receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you'll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If not, you can apply for it online on the Social Security Administration (SSA) website or visit your local Social Security office.
3. Decide If You Need Both Parts A and B:
- Medicare has different parts, but the two main ones are Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).
Medicare Part A Premium:
- Most people do not pay a premium for Medicare Part A if they or their spouse have paid Medicare taxes while working.
- If you haven't worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters (10 years), you may have to pay a premium for Part A.
Medicare Part B Premium:
- The standard Medicare Part B premium is set by the government and may change annually.
- The premium amount can be higher for individuals with higher incomes (based on their modified adjusted gross income).
- Some people may be eligible for assistance to cover Part B premiums through Medicaid or other programs.
- If you continue to work past the age of 65 and have health coverage through your employer or your spouse's employer, you may be able to delay enrolling in Medicare without penalties. However, it's essential to assess your specific situation to determine the best course of action.
5. Consider Additional Coverage (Optional):
- Many people also choose to enroll in additional coverage, such as a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), a prescription drug plan (Part D), or a Medigap policy. You can explore these options on the Medicare website or through private insurance providers.
6. Be Aware of Late Enrollment Penalties:
- It's important to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid late enrollment penalties. If you delay enrollment in Part B, you may have to pay a higher premium when you do enroll.
7. Get Help if Needed:
- If you're unsure about the process or need assistance, you can contact your local Social Security office or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You can also get help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
Remember to start the enrollment process several months before your 65th birthday to ensure that your coverage begins on time. If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait for the General Enrollment Period and may face penalties.
Michele Marchiano, Medicare Specialist