Turning 65: Do you need to enroll in Medicare?

Every day 10,000 American baby-boomers turn 65 .  Most will enroll in Medicare, but many will not.

Not everyone needs to enroll in Medicare because some people continue working and are covered by their employer’s health insurance.  A person who works for a large employer with good health insurance (that probably includes coverage for a younger spouse) can keep that coverage and does not need to enroll in Medicare.  When that person retires, he/she will face no penalty for late-enrollment in Part B of Medicare.

People who are self-employed, or work for a small company with lousy health insurance (with high deductibles, co-pays, and ridiculous premiums), will be thrilled to get into the Medicare system.  I have said to many people in this category, “You may be getting older, but you’ll finally get good health insurance!”

How you enroll in Medicare depends on your current situation related to Social Security.

1) If you are receiving Social Security payments, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare A and B. Part B has a monthly premium which will be deducted from your Social Security check at the start of the month in which you turn 65.  Your Medicare card will be sent to you three months before your birthday month.

2) If you are not drawing Social Security payments, you will need to contact Social Security to tell them you want Part B.

The Social Security phone number is 800-772-1213. Or you can go to Medicare.gov and enroll online. You will also need to make arrangements to pay your Part B premium, which is $104.90 per month in 2013. If your income is above $85,000/yr, you will pay a higher Part B premium.  You have to pay 3 months at a time at the start, but you can set up automatic bank withdrawals to pay the premium each month.

You should make sure you are signed up for Medicare three months before you turn 65.

Once you’ve enrolled in Part B, you will get your Medicare card.  Your Medicare card has important information that is required when you go to sign up for a Medicare supplement, Part D plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan. Your Medicare claim number is usually your Social Security number with a letter after it.  People who don’t use Medicare when they turn 65 will have different start dates for Part A and Part B.

Choosing your Medicare coverage:

Once you’ve got your Medicare card, you need to choose your Medicare coverage.  Will you have only Medicare? (A financially risky choice.)  Will you get a Medicare supplement and a stand-alone Part D plan?  Will you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D drug coverage?  On my website I provide a short video presentation, Intro to Your Medicare ChoicesClick here to to go that page.

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