Posted on Sep 4, 2020 in Senior Tips
Your healthcare coverage changes when you turn 65 and today we’ve got a handy guide showing you or your loved one how to sign up for Medicare.
If you’re getting Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you’ll be enrolled for Medicare Parts A and B automatically (unless you live in Puerto Rico). If you’re resident in PR, you’ll need to apply for Part B yourself.
You’ll be notified by post with a welcome pack explaining the coverage available to you. Please note that you may have to file other applications in addition to this automatic enrollment. If you’re turning 65 in the next three months, you can find out what you need to do at the Medicare website here.
If you’re not yet getting Social Security benefits, you’ll have to apply for both Part A and Part B yourself.
Important: It’s vital you take action this within three months of your 65th birthday or three months after. If you leave it too late, you’ll be penalized, and the cost of your premium will go up 10% for every 12 months that you miss the deadline.
Outside enrollment periods run from October 15th to December 7th if you do not apply within three months either side of your 65th birthday.
Part B covers medical costs such as doctor’s visits, outpatient appointments, and preventative services. Deciding whether to apply for Part B depends on your current healthcare coverage. This is an important decision as you’ll have to pay your Part B premium every month, plus you don’t want to be landed with a lifetime premium penalty.
It is strongly advised that you apply for Part B in the following circumstances:
More information on whether to opt for Part B can be found at the Medicare website here.
You can choose whether to sign up for Medicare online or over the phone.
You can apply for Medicare using the online service at the Social Security Administration website here.
Applying online can be more convenient as long as you’re computer literate. If you need help applying, you could ask a friend or relative to assist you.
The benefits of using the online service can save you time and effort because:
If you are unable to use the online service, you can call 1-800-772-1213 Monday to Friday from 7am to 7pm.
If you are hard of hearing, please call 1-800-325-0778.
If you are not a resident in the US, you’ll need to contact the Foreign Benefits Service for your country of residence. You can find the details here.
Choosing the best coverage for your situation depends largely on the coverage you already have.
When you make your initial application, you’ll receive the following in the post:
There are two main types of Medicare to apply for: Original Medicare and the Medicare Advantage Plan.
Original Medicare is paid for by the contributions you make while you work. This covers Part A for hospital expenses and Part B for medical expenses.
If you need coverage for prescription medicines, you’ll need a policy for Part D coverage. Please note that you can only apply for Part D coverage if you’ve already got Medicare.
To ensure you’re covered for additional out-of-pocket costs not covered by Original Medicare, you’ll need another policy called Medigap. This caps any expenses incurred not covered by your insurance.
Medicare Advantage covers Parts A, B, and D in most states but check with the Social Security Administration to check. This is a private insurance plan that’s paid for by a single monthly payment.
Medicare Advantage may be your preferred option as it can include coverage for dental treatment, vision, and hearing care. Again, this will depend on where you live.
To apply for Medicare Advantage, you’ll need to have Part A and Part B coverage.
Choosing the right plan for you can be a little complicated. You can use the Medicare Plan Finder, an online tool to research the best policy here. You’ll first need to create a login. Then, you can input your individual circumstances. The tool will then show you the healthcare plans best suited to your situation.
Maybe your circumstances change. Perhaps you move or an insurance policy stops. If so, you might want to make changes to your Medicare policy.
There are specified times during which you can switch, drop, or change your policy.
The Medicare Advantage enrollment period runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. During this time, you can add Part D cover for prescriptions if you don’t already have it. Similarly, you can drop this coverage if you have another program that covers your prescriptions.
If you missed the deadline three months before or after your 65th birthday, there is another opportunity to register for Medicare. This also runs from January 1 to March 31.
Sometimes, circumstances conspire and you’ll need to make changes to your policy. If you move, or you receive an incorrect plan due to an error with the online tool, you can benefit from some time to make changes to your plan. This is called a Special Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods vary according to your individual situation and you can find further information here.
It’s crucial to become familiar with healthcare deadlines to prevent you or your loved one from being financially penalized. If you have any questions about how to sign up for Medicare, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE and someone will be able to assist you.
If you need help with any other aspect of aging or you’re interested in exploring an assisted living community, get in touch with us at Landmark Senior Living today and we’ll arrange a tour of the nearest community.