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Turning 65, When can I apply for Medicare?

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If you are turning 65 this year or new to Medicare, you can apply for Medicare 3 months before your birth month, the month of your birthday, and 3 months after your birth month. This 7 month window is called Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). It is mandatory to sign up for Medicare when you turn 65. If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), you may pay a higher premium for Medicare Part B (Doctor bills, outpatient services, and other medical expenses).

Enrolling in Medicare

If you aren’t getting retirement benefits yet from Social Security, you will need to sign up manually for Medicare Part A and/or Part B through Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.

► Visit the Social Security website. You can apply for Medicare online only if you’re not yet ready to receive retirement benefits.

► Call Social Security at1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.

► Apply in person at your local Social Security office.

What is covered by Part A & B

Medicare is medical insurance for people who are 65 or older, and some younger people with disabilities. Medicare has two parts, Part A covers hospital expenses and Part B doctor services, outpatient care, preventive services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment.

Medicare Part A you pay no monthly premiums for Part A. If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters of work (10 years), Part A is free. For those who must buy Part A, the monthly premium is over $400.

Medicare Part B for most will cost $134 a month, much higher for high income individuals.

Do I need supplemental coverage with Medicare?

Medicare (Part A & B) will not cover you 100%. If you want 100% coverage or close to 100% you need a supplemental plan. You have at least 2 options.

Option 1

► Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) Plan – Supplemental (Medigap) Plan will charge a fee with rate increases after you get older. You have plans that cover 100% (Plan F) of what Medicare does not cover. Other plans are Plan G, N, and others.

A Medicare Supplemental plans are offered by private companies registered with Medicare. You pay a premium either monthly, quarterly, or yearly. It is common for your rate to go up every year. Example in 2018 a 65 year old female can pay $120 a month for Plan F and when she is 80 years old her monthly payment maybe have gone up to $180 a month.

► Medication Plan (Part D) – Part D plans also charge you a fee plus a co-pay for Generic, name brand, and specialty medications. Part D Plans are also offered by private companies who are registered with Medicare.

You will pay a monthly premium for Part D plans. Some companies may offer discounts for certain medications if you purchase from a pharmacy. For example, if you purchase medication ABC from pharmacy 1 you pay $2 and $4 if you purchase the same medication at pharmacy 2.

Option 2

Medicare Advantage Plan – Medicare Advantage plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare (Part A &B) covers. The majority of Medicare Advantage Plans offer extra coverage, like vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). Some include transportation (for medical reasons), and gym membership.

A few offer to pay a part of your Part B premium fee.

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