How do I apply for Medicare
If you are like most people who are almost 65, you might be wondering How do I apply for Medicare. A common misconception is that you can get Medicare as soon as you claim Social Security benefits, which can be as early as age 62. Unfortunately, if you retire early and claim your Social Security benefit, you’ll have to wait until 65 before you’ll be eligible for Medicare benefits.
In cases where you already receive Social Security retirement benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in both Medicare part A & B when you turn 65. You will receive your Medicare card a little before you turn 65.
If you are not receiving Social Security retirement benefits when you turn 65, you will need to apply for Medicare. This is easy to do on line at www.SocialSecurity.gov. It can also be done by phone 1-800-325-0778 Monday-Friday, 7 am to 7 pm, or in-person at your local Social Security office. Your initial enrollment period starts three months prior to your 65th birthday and ends three months after the month you turn 65.
Enrolling in Medicare can be confusing, because of all the plan options available. Finding an experienced Medicare agent can make it easier to find a plan that both suits your needs and budget.
As we stated above, the initial enrollment period for Medicare starts 3 months before the month you turn 65 and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. That gives you seven months to complete your enrollment. In other words, it is best to get yourself enrolled as soon as possible to get your benefits in place so you avoid any coverage gap that might occur when you lose your current health coverage.
Because Medicare doesn’t cover all healthcare costs, many people choose to supplement their coverage. You can use either a Medigap/Medicare supplement plan or Medicare Advantage Plan/Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage plans or Part C takes the place of your original Medicare (A&B). These plans all offer the same benefits that both Part A & Part B offer, and most of these plans cover healthcare expenses that Part A & Part B do not cover; this can include prescriptions. Each plan has it’s own coverage options. Please note, these plans have a specific provider network and you will pay extra if you use an out-of-network provider. Before you choose a plan, make sure that your prescriptions are on that company’s formulary.
In most cases, Medicare supplement/Medigap plans charge higher premiums than Medicare Advantage plans. Although, people who choose Medicare Supplement/Medigap plans usually have little to no deductibles. On the down side, these plans do not include prescription drug coverage. For that reason, you will need to purchase a prescription drug plan to go with your Medicare Supplement/Medigap Plan.
If you choose a Medicare Supplement/Medigap plan, you need to find a drug plan or Part D coverage. If you take any medication now or may need to in the future, this is an important thing to consider. There are many companies that offer Par D coverage. Because of this, you will need to check each company’s formulary to find the best coverage for your needs. This is something your insurance agent can do for you.
Keep in mind, each year Medicare has an open enrollment period which runs from October 15 through December 7. During this time you should check your plans against other plans to see if you are still in the best plan for you. If you find your needs have changed, you can make changes for the coming year. Each year insurance companies make changes to their plans, they may change their provider network or formulary among other things. This is why if you have a diligent agent, they will contact you before or during open enrollment and make sure you have the coverage that is best for you.