Once a person is within 6 months of their 65th birthday, they become a very popular target for advertisers and marketers. The reason for this is that they get the opportunity to enroll in Medicare Part A, B, and D, and get to choose an insurance provider to pay many of their Medicare charges, so they are not left having to pay their 20% coinsurance.
If you were on Medicare early due to a disability, many of these choices become available to you a second time, but it is important to first seek out answers to what you are eligible to do from either your state’s senior health insurance center or a knowledgeable insurance advisor.
If you have an employer benefit and you know you will be keeping their coverage in some capacity, stop. Your Medicare choices will be dictated entirely by your employer or former employer’s rules. They will tell you exactly what your options for choices are, and even whether you should take Medicare Part B, or hold off, and if you should take a Prescription Drug plan, or hold off. Failure to follow your employer’s instructions could possibly forfeit your rights for you or your family to receive their coverage, so it is extremely important you follow their directions precisely.
Enrollment into Medicare Part B:
For most people, Medicare Part A enrollment is automatic and they do not need to do anything. Enrollment into Part B, on the other hand, is usually determined by whether or not you are collecting Social Security benefits. If you are collecting Social Security already, you do not need to take any action. Social Security will automatically enroll you into Medicare Part B and send you a Medicare card at least 90 days before the effective date. If, however, you are NOT collecting Social Security, you must contact the Social Security office to enroll in Medicare Part B at least 3 months before you turn 65. When you contact them, you will have an option to begin taking Social Security benefits at that time. Consider carefully if you wish to do this. For most people turning 65 today, taking Social Security at this time is considered early retirement and you could find limits placed on your income and you would receive a decreased benefit. If you choose to enroll in Medicare but not take your Social Security early, they will present you with options as you enroll as to how you will be able to pay this year’s Medicare Part B premium.
Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan, Supplement, and Part D:
Once you are enrolled into Medicare, enrollment options open up for insurance. It is important to consider your options and we encourage you to ask questions with a knowledgeable insurance advisor about what is available. For general advice on enrollment and the pros and cons of the various options available to you, please see the section on this site about different options available.
Two final points that are common misunderstandings when people turn 65: The first is how your Medicare card comes. It comes anywhere from 4 to 2 months before your 65th birthday, and if you are already collecting Social Security, it will come with no action needed on your part. It will come in a plain envelope and is made of paper. It can easily be thrown away as junk mail. Be on the lookout for this card when it comes.
The second thing to know is the effective date. Medicare always begins the first day of the month you turn 65 unless your birthday is the first day of the month, then it begins the month before. For example, if your birthday is April 10, Medicare begins on April 1. If your birthday is June 30, Medicare begins June 1. If your birthday is December 2, Medicare begins December 1. However, if your birthday is February 1, then Medicare begins on January 1. If turning 65 is what makes you eligible for Medicare, Medicare never starts on your actual birthday.
Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.
Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year.