Signing Up For Medicare

Whether you’re new to Medicare, getting ready to turn 65, or getting ready to retire, you’ll have to make a few important decisions. To get started, we’ve compiled some background information about Medicare, and listed some easy steps to help you sign up.

Medicare was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 in order to help older adults pay their medical expenses. The plan covers adults 65 and older and since its inception the program has been expanded to include people of all ages with disabilities and for those with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Put plainly, this is a program in place to make sure that every U.S. citizen can receive aid for the medical bills for the duration of their later life.

Step 1: Different Parts of Medicare

Most importantly, you need to know about the different parts of Medicare. To begin, there is Part A and Part B. Part is hospital insurance, which covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Part B covers medical insurance including certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. You will enroll in these two Parts right around your 65th birthday.

Step 2: When to Enroll

Depending on certain situations, including particular disabilities, some people may receive Medicare automatically and before their 65th birthday. But for the average citizen, the first time you can enroll is called your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is usually a seven-month period that begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month of your birthday, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. There are penalties for waiting after this period to enroll, and you may have a gap in coverage if you decide to opt for Part B later.

Step 3: Decide if you want Part A and Part B

Most people should enroll in Part A when they turn 65, even if they have health insurance from an employer. This is because most people paid Medicare taxes while they worked so they don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A. Certain people may choose to delay Part B. In most cases, it depends on the type of health coverage you may have. Everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B. The premium varies depending on your income and when you enroll in Part B. Most people will pay the standard premium amount of $134 in 2017.

Step 4: Choose Your Coverage

If you decide you want Parts A and B, there are two primary ways to get coverage—Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Some people opt for the second option to receive additional coverage like Medicare prescription drug coverage or Medicare Supplement Insurance. This will vary depending on your health needs. Most people who are still working and have employer coverage don’t need the additional coverage, but this is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.

Step 5: Sign up for Medicare

If you are automatically signed up for Medicare you will receive a red, white, and blue card in the mail around three months before you 65th birthday. If you don’t get Medicare automatically, you’ll have to sign up online. It’s best to review all this information before your birthday arrives. Knowing these simple steps can save you money on late penalties and keep you in the best plan for your needs.

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