| Tue, Jan 31, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Becoming eligible for Medicare in 2012? Learn 10 things you can do to help prepare.

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Are you or a loved one becoming eligible for Medicare in this year? You’re not alone. Are you or a loved one becoming eligible for Medicare in this year? You’re not alone. This year, an estimated 10,000* baby boomers will turn 65 each day. Learn ten key things you can do—or for yourself or a loved one—to help be prepared when the Medicare enrollment window opens.

  1. Learn how eligibility and enrollment work. There’s an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) around the time you become eligible (for most, their 65th birthday). Learn about IEP—and possible penalties that may apply if you miss it. Also learn how to switch plans if you change your mind.
  2. Understand the basics of Medicare. Learn how the different Medicare “parts” work and what they cover. Then start thinking about which plan(s) fit your coverage needs and your budget. This short video gives an overview of Medicare.
  3. Research plans available in your area. While Original Medicare benefits are the same nation-wide, the availability and pricing for Medicare Advantage plans (Part C), prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans can vary by location. Medicare.gov’s plan finder tool can help.
  4. Consider your current coverage. If you have employee or retiree health coverage, talk with your plan administrator about your choices, then compare it with Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.
  5. Review the coverage you need and your budget for health care costs. Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything, so look into additional coverage if you need it. You can add a Part D plan for prescription drug coverage or apply for a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap) to help cover some costs like copays and coinsurance. Or you may want a Medicare Advantage plan that offers medical and hospital coverage, plus benefits like drug coverage, eye care and more.
  6. If you need help paying for Medicare costs, find out if you qualify for financial assistance. To find out what programs are in your state, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, to find the Social Security office nearest you.
  7. Consider filling out an authorization form granting a trusted loved one the right to access your personal information. This step can make it easier for your caregiver to help should you need it.
  8. Get answers to your questions. Contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.
  9. Gather the documentation you need to enroll.You’ll need:
    1. Your birth date, contact info and emergency contact information for a loved one.
    2. The policy number, group ID numbers, and any other identifying information for your current health care plan.
    3. Contact information for your current doctors and other health care providers.
    4. A list of current medications, health conditions and treatments.
    5. Bank account information, if you’d like to set up automatic payments.
  10. Make an appointment for a preventative visit. Medicare beneficiaries qualify for a one-time visit during the first 12 months they’re enrolled in Medicare.

For more information contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.

*Cohn, D. & Taylor, P. “Baby Boomers Approach Age 65 — Glumly.” Pew Research Center Publications. Dec. 20, 2010.

Resources:

Visit Medicare’s website.

Contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

Browse videos on these topics and more at the Medicare Made Clear video gallery.

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