If you are soon to be age 65, you might be wondering how to enroll in Medicare Part A and B with the federal government. Enrollment is done through the Social Security Administration and can be accomplished in three different ways.
You do not need to be retired or losing group insurance to enroll, but you will need to be within 3 months of your 65th birthday unless you are eligible due to disability.
There are three ways to enroll in Medicare:
The easiest and quickest way to enroll might be the online form that is provided by the government. This will save you the time and trouble of making an appointment and visiting your local SS office which may not be close by.
Calling the toll-free number might be the next best way assuming that you do not have access to or are not comfortable entering your information online into their system.
However you can always schedule an appointment and visit a Social Security office if you prefer a more personal approach to this process. This may be helpful for those who are deciding whether to begin their SS benefits or to defer them until age 67.
No matter your means for Medicare enrollment, it is most important that it is done at the proper time in order to avoid penalties. If you do not enroll in both Parts A and B during your designated open enrollment window(s), then you can be accessed higher premiums as well as mandatory enrollment delays.
The monetary penalties will increase the longer you wait and can be accessed for your lifetime. The enrollment delays may keep you from Medicare eligibility for several months and leave you without any type of health insurance at all until your Medicare benefits begin.
Open enrollment will differ for everyone, but most seniors enroll in Part A at age 65. Medicare Part A is free to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are eligible for social security benefits, railroad retirement, and/or those who paid or were a spouse of someone who paid Medicare taxes.
As this is a cost-free benefit, SSA advises that seniors enroll at age 65 even if they are not retired and do not plan on taking social security benefits. If you cannot meet the above mentioned criteria, then you can still enroll in Part A by paying a monthly premium
Medicare Part B is available to those age 65 who are also eligible for Part A. It is also available to those who have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months.
Medicare Part B premiums will vary, but they are usually less expensive if you have them deducted from your social security benefits. Those who are above certain income thresholds will be accessed higher premiums than those who are not. In general, Part B premiums are approximately $100 a month for most Medicare recipients.
It is important to enroll in Part B when you are eligible. This will not necessarily be age 65 as some seniors will still be working and covered under their employers group health insurance or retirement coverage.
However, even if you are covered under an employer plan, you may still need to enroll in Part B to avoid premium penalties and enrollment delays. The size of your employer group (20 employees) will determine your best course of action.
It is highly recommended to speak with your human resources manager and a SSA representative to best understand how to proceed with Part B enrollment.
Medicare Part C refers to the private insurance that supplements your Medicare Parts A and B. The two supplemental types of coverage that can be purchased from independent insurance agents are Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans.
There are several different Advantage and Supplemental plans to choose from, but they are all provided from private insurance companies like Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mutual of Omaha, United Healthcare, and the like.
Your choice of coverage might depend on your overall health, out-of-pocket concerns, network restrictions and several other factors. It is wise to speak with an agent who handles these coverages in your home state before purchasing a plan. You can learn much more about Part C plans by clicking here.
The final piece of the Medicare puzzle is Part D prescriptions drug coverage. Part D is usually fairly simple and refers to the prescription drug plans that are offered by private insurance companies.
Some are sold on a stand-alone basis while others are packaged together with Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare supplements and Part D rx coverages are always sold separately. Even if they are provided from the same insurance company, they will always be offered as two separate policies.
It is important to enroll when you are first eligible in order to avoid late enrollment penalties and/or mandatory delays. Most seniors purchase a Part D plan when they enroll in supplemental coverage – either separately or as a package.
Open enrollment for Part D plans occur each year from November 15th to December 31st. If you are unhappy with your prescription drug coverage, then you can purchase a new plan (effective January 1st) during this time without any medical underwriting or proof of insurability.
Hyers and Associates is a full service health insurance agency offering Medicare supplements and prescription Part D plans in several states across the country. Contact us to discuss your options today!