You are turning 65 soon and need to sign up for Medicare. But where do you begin? You have been receiving countless pieces of mail from Social Security and Insurance Carriers telling you what to do and when, but who has the time to read all of that and figure out what it means?
You are NOT alone!
Here are 5 of the most asked questions I get when assisting my clients with their Medicare enrollment.
#1—What is Medicare and how do I sign up?
Original Medicare is available to anyone who is 65 years old with at least 5 years of permanent residency in America. You can also qualify if they have received 24 months of Social Security Disability.
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) are provided to you by the federal government. You will enroll into this through the Social Security office.
Medicare Part A: hospital coverage
Medicare Part B: outpatient medical coverage
The easiest way to sign up is to go to www.ssa.gov and sign up for Medicare. You do not need to be receiving your Social Security benefits to enroll in Medicare.
#2—Do I need to sign up if I am still working?
Short answer, it depends. If you are working for a company that has 20 or more employees, then chances are your company has creditable coverage and you can delay enrolling into Medicare. (Creditable coverage is coverage that is as good as or better than Medicare.) If your company is less than 20 employees, or does not provide creditable coverage, then you need to sign up at age 65 to avoid late enrollment penalties.
#3—Isn’t Medicare Free?
Medicare Part A is premium-free for you as long as you or your spouse has worked for at least 10 years in the United States.
Medicare Part B has a premium. The base rate for 2021 is $148.50. Social Security looks back at your income from two years prior to your enrollment to determine what your premium will be. If you were a higher earner, then your premium will be higher.
#4—Why do I need any other plan?
Medicare has deductibles and cost share. After you have met the deductibles, Medicare (generally) pays 80% and leaves you responsible for 20% of the cost with NO cap. That could leave you with quite a bill for some surgeries or cancer treatments-supplemental coverage will protect you from these high costs.
There are two ways to get the supplemental coverage: you can choose a Medigap Plan with a Stand-Alone Prescription Drug Plan, or a Medicare Advantage Plan.
#5—What is Part D?
Part D is your prescription drug plan. You will need to purchase this from an insurance carrier to help cover the costs of your prescription medications. Even if you do not currently take any prescriptions, it is advised that you get one when you are first eligible for Medicare to avoid a late enrollment penalty. There are many different drug plans available at varying premium costs and formulary levels. The Medicare website has a handy tool to assist you in finding the right plan for you.
So, now what?
You will want to keep all correspondence from Social Security. Read it, follow the instructions, and keep them in a safe place.
If you have decided that yes, it is time to enroll in Medicare, or if you still have questions, give me a call. I am an independent Medicare broker, I represent all the major insurance plans in our Colorado marketplace. My goal is to educate you on the options that are available and to help you choose the plan that will best fit your lifestyle and medical needs. Talking with me means your options are open.