| Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Turning 65 in 2015? 4 Things You Should Know About Medicare

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Boomemedicarers turning 65 in 2015 share a milestone with Medicare. You are becoming eligible for benefits just as Medicare celebrates its 50th year. Medicare may be 15 years younger than you but, what the heck, 65 is the new 45.

Here are the basics you need to know.

1. You Have a Set Medicare Enrollment Window.

Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is a 7-month window. It’s triggered by your 65th birthday, in most cases. Your IEP includes:

  • The 3 months before the month you turn 65
  • The month you turn 65
  • The 3 months after the month you turn 65

For example, if you turn 65 in June, then your IEP is March 1 – September 30. One exception is if your birthday is on the first day of the month. In this case your IEP would start and end one month earlier. So if you turn 65 on June 1, for example, then your IEP is February 1 – August 31.

You may be enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and B automatically when you become eligible. This happens when you are already getting benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. Otherwise you need to contact your local Social Security office. You may also enroll online at Medicare.gov.

2. You Have Medicare Decisions to Make.

During your IEP, you may enroll in Medicare Part A, Part B or both. Your Medicare decisions may be affected by a number a factors including:

  • Whether you plan to continue working
  • What other health insurance you have, if any
  • How any other health insurance you have may work with Medicare

It generally makes sense to take premium-free Part A (hospital coverage) as soon as you’re eligible. Some people decide to delay enrolling in Part B (medical coverage) to save on paying the premium. This may make sense if you have health insurance through your (or your spouse’s) employer or union. You may add Part B later without penalty as long as you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

3. You Have Two Ways to Get Medicare.

When you are enrolled in both Parts A and B you have two choices for how to get your Medicare benefits:

  • Original Medicare
  • Medicare Advantage

Some people who choose Original Medicare add a drug plan (Part D) and a Medicare supplement insurance plan. These plans are designed to help with some costs that Original Medicare doesn’t pay. They are offered by private insurance companies under contract with Medicare. Original Medicare is administered by the federal government.

Medicare Advantage plans offer an all-in-one option. Plans must provide all the benefits that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does. Most plans also offer benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t. Extra benefits may include drug coverage (Part D) and dental and eye exams. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies under contract with Medicare. You can’t use a Medicare supplement plan with a Medicare Advantage plan.

4. Help is Available.

You may have more questions as you start to explore your Medicare options. The good news is that there is plenty of help available. Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Review the Medicare & You handbook online.
  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778).
  • Get one-on-one help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • Talk to your employer health plan administrator.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

SSA.gov: Visit the official Social Security web site.

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