If you’re soon to turn 65, you will face a number of decisions related to your healthcare and Medicare enrollment. Here’s what you need to know now, so that you can start preparing for this big shift in your life.
Medicare offers you a seven-month initial enrollment window. You can enroll in Medicare during the three months before your birthday month, throughout that month, and for three months afterward. However, getting an early start is preferable, so that you have time to thoroughly research your options.
You can change your mind later. You’re not stuck with the decisions you make during the initial Medicare enrollment period. Each year, you can make changes to your plan during the Annual Election Period from October 15 to December 7. And those of you who enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan will have another opportunity to make changes, during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31 each year.
You must enroll on time. Medicare isn’t exactly optional. You must enroll during your intial enrollment window, or else you could face higher Medicare premiums for the rest of your life when you finally do enroll.
Some people can postpone their enrollment. If you’re still employed, and your employer covers more than 20 workers with a group healthcare plan, you can delay your Medicare enrollment until that coverage ends someday. The same goes if you’re married to someone employed in such a situation, and their healthcare plan covers you.
You will face a variety of choices. Everyone who enrolls in Medicare will choose between Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or a Medicare Advantage plan, which combines Parts A and B (and sometimes includes additional provisions such as prescription coverage or dental and vision benefits). If you choose Original Medicare, you should look into your options regarding a Part D (prescription) plan, and supplementary coverage such as Medigap (which limits your out-of-pocket expense) or a dental and vision plan.
Special Needs Plans are also available to people diagnosed with certain health conditions, so that your healthcare plan can be organized around your very specific needs.
Help is free. Everyone is eligible to receive free help with researching and understanding their Medicare options. Just call us to talk to one of our brokers, and we’ll help you locate plans available in your area.