If you’re approaching 65 it’s time to get serious about Medicare. It’s a fairly complicated system and the rules can be confusing. Just be sure to enroll at 65 years of age or, if you’re older, enroll within eight months of stopping work to avoid late penalties. Otherwise, if you’re close to turning 65 and not getting Social Security you have to sign up.
Medicare is separated into four plans with different products and services. If you’re receiving Social Security already, you’ll be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B automatically.
Medicare Part A – Covers inpatient hospital care, nursing homes and specified in-home care services.
Medicare Part B – Covers doctor visits and outpatient services.
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) – Provides comprehensive coverage through private insurance providers.
Medicare Part D – Covers outpatient prescription drugs and is offered by insurance carriers that contract with Medicare.
Medigap Supplement – Offered by private providers, Medigap help pay deductibles, co-pays and other gaps.
For a more detailed look at these different parts, see our journal article.
How to Sign Up
If you’re not getting Social Security you must sign up to get Medicare benefits. If you qualify for Social Security benefits, you won’t be charged for Medicare Part A coverage. Medicare Part B is standard for everyone. A monthly fee is typically taken out of your Social Security payment. Premium costs depend on your modified adjusted gross income.
If you don’t want Medicare Part B, that must be indicated when you apply for Medicare. If you decide not to sign up for Part B when you enroll in Part A, your premium will go up every year if you choose to enroll in Part B at a later date, unless: You’re already covered in a group health plan or you sign up for Part B within eight months of losing group health coverage.
To sign up:
- Call Social Security at 800-772-1213.
- Apply in person at your local Social Security office.
- Apply online.