Most people turning 65 first become eligible for Medicare and begin the enrollment process by taking advantage of their Initial Enrollment Period. In this guide, we’ll highlight the important steps you should take three months before turning 65.
Sign Up for Medicare
If you do not qualify for automatic enrollment, then the three months before your 65th birthday will serve as the start of your Initial Enrollment Period. Unless you still have a group health plan and are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, you will need to sign up for Original Medicare during this period to avoid the late enrollment penalty.
To get more information, you can talk to a Medicare agent with Bend Medicare to learn more about your coverage options. However, before you enroll, you should ask some important questions to help you gain clarity about your coverage options. These questions can include:
- What will be my out-of-pocket expenses with each plan?
- What is all covered by each plan?
- Do any Medicare plans offer additional coverage or benefits?
- Are there network providers with each plan?
- Do any of the plans work together to provide coverage?
Getting answers to questions like these will help you figure out which plan will meet your coverage needs the best.
Consider Part D Coverage
Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescriptions, but there is a late enrollment penalty for Part D, so it is important to sign up when you are first eligible. You can sign up for Medicare Part D during your Initial Enrollment Period after enrolling in Original Medicare. Suppose you do not enroll in Part D or any other creditable prescription drug coverage plan for a period of 63 days or more after your Initial Enrollment Period. In that case, you may have to pay a late enrollment for Part D if you later enroll, which will then be added onto your Part D monthly premium.
If you need coverage for prescription drugs, it is better to enroll in Medicare Part D as soon as you become eligible. Part D covers various prescription medications. The list of drugs covered under a Part D plan is known as the formulary. Each Part D plan is required to cover drugs under certain groups of medications such as immunosuppressants, antipsychotics, antidepressants, etc.
Consider Part C
Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage. To enroll in Part C, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare. Suppose you need additional Medicare coverage apart from Original Medicare. In that case, you can consider signing up for Part C. Medicare Advantage covers the basic services covered under Original Medicare, such as hospice care, ambulance rides, doctor visits, skilled nursing facility care, etc.
In addition, Part C also covers prescription drug coverage, dental, vision, and other extra benefits not offered under Original Medicare.
As we have already noted, to enroll in Part C, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare. As soon as you become eligible for Original Medicare (three months before your 65th birthday), think about Part C. It’s important to note that this part of Medicare isn’t for everyone, but that will be up to you to determine based on your own coverage needs. If you would like to have extra coverage beyond what Original Medicare covers, this is an option to consider.
Consider Medicare Supplements
When it comes to extra coverage, you will most likely be choosing between Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplements. If you decided not to go with a Medicare Advantage plan but would still like some sort of extra coverage for out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare will not cover, then definitely consider a Medicare Supplement plan. You can sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan during the Medigap Open Enrollment period. During this period, you have a guaranteed issue right to purchase a supplement plan.
While you can’t actually enroll in a Medicare Supplement until you are enrolled in Original Medicare and have turned 65, as soon as you become eligible during those three months before you turn 65, this will provide you with a good amount of time to really think about the coverage you need.
At Bend Medicare, we know how challenging it is to select a plan that works best for you. Let us help by providing knowledgeable, dependable, and caring professionals who can make sense of the complexities of choosing a Medicare Plan.