I’m Turning 65 This Year, What Do I Do?
First of all, congratulations! If you are eligible for Medicare, depending upon your personal circumstances, you may be automatically enrolled into Medicare Parts A and B or you may have to apply for Part A, or B or both. You should already have an online account with Social Security. This helps you during the application phase.
You can apply for Medicare beginning three months prior to your birth month, during your birth month, or up to three months after you turn 65. Your effective date for Medicare depends on when you apply and if you are born on the first of a month.
You should familiarize yourself with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Medicare and You booklet. It is over 120 pages this year so if you don’t get one, you can download it or order a hardcopy. You can also visit our website to learn more about Medicare basics.
If you are still in the workforce and have a group health plan, talk to your health plan administrator about how choosing Part B can affect your health insurance. Then, talk to a broker/agent at our office about your options to compliment your group plan and/or to get a second opinion. If you are not in the workforce, talk to a broker/agent at our office and we can explain why your Medicare benefits may not be enough protection for your budget or health needs.
After you apply for your Medicare benefits, you will get an award letter from the government letting you know what you were awarded, what your effective date is/are, and how much your Part A (if any) and Part B premiums are. Please be aware that you may have to pay more than the standard rate if your income is over the threshold. Most people pay no premium for Part A if they are eligible; some can pay a premium up to $471.00 (2021). It depends on eligibility.
You have your award letter and it has your Medicare Beneficiary Identifying number on it. Now you can shop for plans to coordinate with your effective dates (as long as you apply in time). You will get your red, white and blue Medicare in the mail. Please don’t laminate it – it is actually a big no-no. Anyway, your card will come separately from the award letter.
Acting timely is very important to the newly eligible Medicare beneficiary. Even if you have Medicaid it is mandatory that you apply for Medicare, whether you are eligible or not. If you are not eligible, you will be given the reasons why and possibly another date when you can apply. If you are eligible, please act quickly so that you can be assured of a smooth transition into Medicare and the product you choose.
Turning 65 can become confusing when it comes to Medicare eligibility. Our website is full of information and resources to get you started.
If you take anything away from this blog it should be this:
Apply as early as possible
Educate yourself on what Medicare is and what it pays for (Medicare website, Medicare and You) or have an agent/broker explain it
Sign up for a Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Plan, or a Medicare Supplement in time to coordinate effective dates with Medicare
It’s never too early to familiarize yourself with Medicare benefits. Medicare and CMS are good sources of information. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed at first – that’s a natural reaction to change.
Congratulations again and Happy 65th Birthday!