Many clients come to us wondering how to sign up for Medicare at age 65. There are a few important details to note about enrolling.
The Parts of Medicare
Medicare is divided into parts. Simply put, Part A is your hospital benefits, Part B, is your office visits, and Medicare Part D is your prescriptions.
Medicare Part C, also known as an Advantage Plan, is a replacement for Medicare A and B. This is something that you would have to elect to take, and by doing so, you give up your rights to Medicare Part A and Part B.
If you are planning on taking Medicare, you must sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period. Your Initial Enrollment Period starts 3 months before your birth month (or the month you need your coverage to start) and ends 3 months after your birth month, lasting 7 months total.
Typically you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A for free. The requirements for this are that you have worked and paid into Social Security for 10 years, or can draw off of the benefits of a spouse that has done so.
Medicare Part B has a premium. You will most likely be automatically enrolled in Part B if you are drawing Social Security, and the premium will be deducted from that benefit. If you are not receiving your Social Security benefits but would like to start Medicare, you can sign up for your Part B up to 3 months in advance. You can sign up for Medicare Part B online, or by going into the Social Security office. If you are signing up after your turned 65 because you had coverage from another source, you will most likely need to submit a proof of creditable coverage form as well.
We recommend that our clients sign up for Medicare Part D 1 month before their coverage starts. The best Part D plan for you will depend on the medications you take, so it is essential to have the most up-to-date information before signing up. You can sign up for your Part D online as well.
Medigap coverage, also known as Medicare Supplement plans, is crucial to making sure that you don’t have significant out-of-pocket costs. Your Open Enrollment period begins 6 months before the month that your Part B starts, and the earlier you sign up, the lower your rate may be.
In most states, Open Enrollment is the only time that you can choose any Medicare Supplement from any provider, with no health questions. After this period, providers can choose to decline you based off of your health. Taking advantage of your Open Enrollment allows you to get the best rate on any Medigap plan of your choosing. You can sign up easily over the phone with one of our agents.
If you do not have creditable and defer your Part B, you can face some severe penalties. If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you will have to wait until the General Enrollment Period. It lasts January 1st through March 31st; however, your coverage would not go into effect until July 1st. You will also pay a 10% penalty for every 12 months that you did not have Part B.
If you miss signing up for your Part D, you will need to do so during the Annual Election Period. This lasts from October 15 through December 7th, and your coverage will start January 1st. You also risk paying penalties for picking up your Part D late.
Nothing on this website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.