If you are turning 65 soon, you probably know that you will be enrolling in Medicare. You likely have a few questions about the process, your benefits and what choices you have in this matter. The truth is, the process of enrolling in Medicare is easy if you know the right steps.
Here are the 5 steps to successfully enroll in Medicare for the first time.
Step 1: Understanding How Medicare Works
To begin with, there are 4 parts to Medicare. These are called Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. A simple way to remember how each part works is to think of it this way: If you have an emergency, an ambulance will pick you up and take you to “A”, the hospital. When you’re released from the hospital they’ll tell you to follow up with your ”B” primary doctor. Part C is known as Medicare Advantage, (that will be discussed later), and Part D covers your prescription medications or “D” for drugs.
Step 2: Knowing How to Enroll in Medicare
One of the most important decisions you’ll make when turning 65 is choosing the right Medicare plan. Enrolling in Medicare is simple. Just call your local social security office. They’ll determine your eligibility and even walk you through the whole process. Once you are done enrolling in Medicare, you’ll receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail within 30 days. Your coverage will begin on the first day of the month you turn 65.
Step 3: When Should I Begin Enrolling in Medicare?
You have a 7 month window to begin enrolling in Medicare for the first time. This Enrollment window begins three months before your 65th birthday and lasts for 7 months.
So what exactly does that mean? It means you can enroll in Medicare when you’re 64 and 9 months old. So let’s say you’re turning 65 in July, you can sign up as early as April 1st but no later than October 31st. This 7-month window is only offered to you once. If you don’t enroll during this period, you may end up paying a late penalty.
Here’s a tip: Don’t delay, have your coverage working for you the very first day of your birth month. To do this, take advantage of the time given to you and enroll in Medicare before turning 65.
Step 4: Prescription Drug Coverage or (Part D)
Many people are unaware they must enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan once they become eligible for Medicare, even if they currently do not take medication or need prescriptions. If you choose to delay enrolling in a Medicare prescription drug plan when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty.
Keep in mind this IS NOT a one-time penalty. The penalty is annual and can increase each year. The good news is Medicare has a variety of prescription drug plans available. To find the right plan, go to www.medicare.gov. Click on find drug plans, and within a few minutes, you’ll be able to shop around for the right plan to fit your needs and your budget.
Step 5: Coverage Gap and Enrolling in Medicare
It’s important to know that Medicare Part A and Part B only covers about 80% of your Medicare bills, this is known as the Coverage Gap. The good news is you have two options to cover this 20% gap.
Option 1: Medicare Advantage (Part C)
Medicare Advantage (Part C) is limited to a network of specialists, doctors, and hospitals. Most of these plans have co-payments, co-insurance, and other out-of-pocket costs that can total up to $6,700 annually.
Option 2: Medicare Supplement (Medigap)
Medicare Supplement plans (Medigap) have low monthly premiums and no network, which allows you to choose any specialist, doctor or hospital that accepts your red, white and blue Medicare card. There are no co-pays, no co-insurance, and no deductibles.
When comparing the two, Medigap plans offer the most protection and remain the most popular choice of coverage for people throughout the U.S.
If you are turning 65 soon and ready to begin the process of enrolling in Medicare, the steps are simple when you know what to do. The best part is that you do not have to be alone. If you have any questions about turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare, then download our free ebook, The Medicare Strategy Guide. In this guide, we cover the step by step process that we use to help people with their Medicare enrollment.