Making the switch to Medicare from other types of insurance can seem confusing and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little research and some knowledge on the subject, you can find the Medicare plan that is right for you. The following tips can help you navigate to a plan that works best for you.
1. When to Enroll
The Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare consists of a seven-month window—the three months before your 65th birthday, your birth month, and the three months after your birthday. You need only enroll during this time period if you are no longer working or plan to retire. People who are still working past the age of 65 may choose to use the insurance provided by their employer instead of Medicare. Open enrollment for Medicare is from October 15 through December 7 every year. Due to certain circumstances, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, which will allow you to enroll outside of open enrollment and the Initial Enrollment Period surrounding your birthday.
2. Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage
Original Medicare coverage is offered by the government. It is a fee-for-service plan made up of Part A, hospital insurance, and Part B, medical insurance. In order to get prescription drug coverage through Original Medicare, you must sign up for Medicare Part D and pay an additional premium. Supplemental policies, called Medigap policies, are available for those who need coverage for benefits that are not covered by Part A or Part B. These policies can help cover copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. They may also cover other insurances like dental or vision.
Medicare Advantage is offered by privately contracted insurance companies. These companies are contracted by Medicare and include coverage for Part A and Part B. Prescription drug coverage, dental coverage, and vision coverage may all be included in a Medicare Advantage plan.
3. Steps to Enroll
Before you enroll, decide who you are going to work with, an insurance agent or the insurance company. Next, choose one of the available ways to enroll in Medicare. There are several ways in which you can enroll as a new Medicare recipient. Visit the website www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly, go to your local Social Security office, or call Social Security at 1-(800)-772-1213.