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6 Timely Medicare Tips for Turning 65

turning 65For most people, Medicare eligibility begins at the age of 65. If you are approaching the age of 65, you will soon become a Medicare beneficiary. Here’s all you need to know to be ready.

The first time you can enroll in Medicare is called your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Your Initial Enrollment Period is 7 months long. It includes: 

 

  • The 3 months before the month you turn 65 

  • The month you turn 65 

  • The 3 months after the month you turn 65

 

This is the optimum moment for most folks to enroll in Medicare. You can avoid late enrollment penalties by enrolling for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period.

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 2. You May Be Able to Delay Medicare Part B

medicare coverageBecause they or a spouse worked and paid taxes for at least 10 years, most people qualify for free Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). Monthly premiums for Part B (medical insurance) range from $148.50 to $504.90 in 2021, depending on income

If you have other health care coverage, such as via an employer or union, you may be allowed to or choose to postpone signing up for Part B. If you delay Part B, you must qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to avoid a late enrollment penalty. You may choose to defer enrolling in Part A if you have employer-provided coverage, especially if you still want to contribute to a health savings account (HSA).

3. There Are Two Ways to Get Medicare

Medicare gives you two ways to get your benefits:

 

  • Original Medicare (Parts A & B), the traditional way

Medicare Advantage (Part C), an alternative to the Original Medicare

The federal government administers original Medicare. Private insurance businesses that have been approved by Medicare offer Medicare Advantage plans. They must provide all of the same benefits as Parts A and B of Original Medicare. Prescription drug coverage, dental, vision, hearing, fitness, and other benefits are included in many Medicare Advantage plans.

4. Medicare Doesn’t Cover Prescription Drugs, Dental, and More

federal medicare program / social security administrationPrescription medicines and other health-related expenses are not covered by original Medicare. Prescription drug coverage is available through either a standalone prescription drug plan (Part D) or a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage included.

In general, if you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you won’t need additional coverage because most of them provide prescription medication coverage.

5. Am I Required to Get Medicare?

Medicare is not required, but if you decide not to enroll at age 65 and do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, this could be costly. Medicare Parts A, B, and D all have late enrollment penalties, and these can quickly add up. Take some time to think carefully and know all your options if you are considering not enrolling in Medicare. It’s usually a good idea to enroll at age 65 if you do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.  

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 6. You May Qualify for Help with Medicare

Several programs offer financial assistance with Medicare premiums and other costs. You may want to look into them, even if you think you might not be eligible.

Programs include: 

  • Medicaid 

  • The Medicare Savings Program 

  • Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) 

  • Extra Help

Other programs may be available in your state, so contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) office for more information.

Plan Ahead Before You Turn 65

Allowing Medicare enrollment to creep up on you is a bad idea. Use these six suggestions to get a head start on studying the fundamentals of Medicare so you can make an informed decision when the time comes. Get Medicare tools and information on the Initial Enrollment Period delivered right to your inbox to get a jump start.

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