Medicare rules can be complicated and tedious to the uninitiated. However, it really isn’t that confusing once you learn the basics.
Medicare comes in five basic parts, and participants select those that best fit their needs.
You pay monthly premiums, either directly or through a deduction in Social Security benefits, for all but Part A.
- Part A: Helps pay for hospital stays; free for most people 65 and older
- Part B: Helps cover doctor visits and outpatient care and comes with a monthly premium.
- Part C: Known as Medicare Advantage, it combines Parts A and B, plus extra benefits and in most cases, prescription drugs. Sold by private companies.
- Part D: Prescription drug coverage, with deductibles; purchased from private companies. Learn more about Medicare Part D.
- Medigap: Officially, Medicare supplemental insurance, sold by private insurance companies. Pays for most expenses not covered by Parts A and B, but not prescription drugs.
How Do I Sign Up for Medicare?
In many instances, there is nothing you need to do. In the same way that you get an AARP application in the mail as soon as you turn 50 years old, you will receive your red-white-and blue Medicare card (if you are already getting social security benefits) in the mail approximately 3 months before you turn 65.
You will be covered under Parts A and B and may elect to cancel your part B coverage in the event that you are not yet retired and are receiving health insurance through your employer. Simply send the card back and in a few weeks you’ll get a new one showing only the Part A coverage.
What Deadlines Are Involved?
Your initial enrollment period is seven months long and begins 3 months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after you turn 65.
What Does Medicare Cost?
Part A is free if you paid Medicare taxes while working. Medicare Part B is associated with a premium. Medicare Advantage and Part D are sold through private insurance companies, and rates, levels of coverage, deductibles, cop-pays and coverage will vary depending on the provider.
What Happens if I’m Not Currently Receiving Social Security and I Want Medicare?
You should contact Social Security – online at ssa.gov or by calling 800-772-1213 – to enroll in Part A and Part B if you choose.
What if I’m still working and covered by my employer’s insurance and not receiving Social Security? Do I need to do anything when I turn 65?
No. You are welcome to sign up even while you are covered under a different insurance, or during the eight month period beginning the month after your employment or coverage terminates.
We hope this blog post helped answer some of your questions regarding Medicare! If you have more questions, please leave them in the comments and we’ll help answer them for you.