When it’s time to sign up for Medicare, information can be confusing. Before enrolling in Medicare, here are three things you should know:
- Timing: If you are not actively working and getting health insurance from your job–even if you have retiree coverage–you will want to enroll in Medicare in the three months before you turn 65, so that you have Medicare beginning on the first day of your birthday month. If you are getting coverage through your or your spouse’s current job and there are at least 20 employees, you can enroll in Medicare without penalty after you or your spouse stops working.
- Enrollment: Enrollment in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) is automatic if you are signed up for Social Security. You do not need to pay anything for Part A if you or your spouse has worked and paid into Medicare at least 10 years. Your Part B premium is deducted from your Social Security check unless your income is low and you qualify for Medicaid or a Medicare Savings program. If you are not signed up for Social Security, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
- Additional coverage: Medicare only covers about half of your health care costs. If you have traditional Medicare, you will need extra coverage, either through: a former employer; or, Medicaid, if your income is low; or, through a private insurer (“Medigap” or Medicare supplemental insurance). If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, a commercial insurance plan that contracts with Medicare, you cannot buy insurance to fill gaps in coverage. Depending on the plan you choose, your out-of-pocket costs could be as high as $6700 a year for your in-network care and much higher if you use out-of-network doctors and hospitals.
Here’s more from Just Care:
- Four things to think about when choosing between traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan
- Medicare checklist: What to do?
- Four things to know if your income is low and you have Medicare
- Beware of involuntary enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan
- When to claim Social Security benefits