Medicare is the national health insurance program in the United States for people 65 years old and over and certain young people with disabilities. The federal program was created in 1965 and has since grown to encompass over 58 million Americans. By 2020, nearly 63 million people are expected to be enrolled in Medicare.
Part of this increase in Medicare enrollees is because the American Baby Boomer generation is reaching retirement age. If you are in this demographic, you may be wondering how it all works. What are the plan’s components? When should I apply? These are common questions most prospective Medicare applicants have. So to help better navigate the application and understand all of the relevant information, we’ve compiled this handy guide to walk you through it.
When to apply for Medicare
You should apply for Medicare when you turn 65 years old. The enrollment window begins three months before your 65th birthday and extends three months after your birthday month, giving you ample time to apply. It is recommended you apply earlier rather than later as part of your coverage could be delayed if you apply after you turn 65, and you could face financial penalties if you apply late.
For individuals who already receive social security benefits, you will be automatically enrolled into Medicare on the first day of the month you turn 65. You will receive your Medicare card in the mail around three months before your 65th birthday. It will be sent to the address that is associated with your social security. But if you are not receiving social security benefits, then you will not be automatically enrolled and will need to call or apply online.
What is covered
There are various parts of Medicare and each section covers different needs. Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, hospice care, and home health care. Medicare Part B covers physician services and tests, outpatient care, and some preventive services. Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, provides additional coverage for services like dental, vision, hearing, and wellness programs. You can only apply to Medicare Advantage if you are already enrolled in Part A and B. And Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.
How to apply for Medicare
You can either apply online under the Social Security Medicare Benefits page or you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to enroll.
If you are still working and on a group health insurance plan, you will most likely be required to sign up for Medicare Part A at age 65. After signing up, your group health insurance plan becomes secondary and Medicare acts as your primary insurance plan. Once you retire, you have eight months to sign up for Medicare Part B.
When your group health insurance ends, you can apply for Medicare Part B during the Special Enrollment Period. During the Special Enrollment Period, you should not experience any late fees.
If you have social security benefits, it is not mandatory for you to enroll in Medicare Part B if you have a group health insurance plan. However, if you were required to sign up for Medicare Part B and didn’t, you will have a 10 percent premium increase for each year you did not have Part B.
And if you don’t have social security benefits, you are not required to enroll in Part B, which you will have to pay a monthly premium for.
Before applying, it is advised to obtain a quote for your coverage on Easy Medicare. In using this platform, you can easily understand how much each plan will cost you.