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What You Need To Know: Signing Up For Medicare

Medicare is the national health insurance program to which all Social Security recipients who are either over 65 years of age or permanently disabled are eligible.

Applying for Medicare is a complicated and lengthy process. You should start your research when you turn 64. Medicare sends you an informational brochure about three months before you’re entitled to Medicare coverage.

Medicare has two substantive coverage components, Part A and Part B. Part A covers inpatient hospital care, hospice care, and inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility, and home health care services. Part B covers medical care and services provided by doctors and other medical practitioners, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some outpatient care and home health services.

5 important facts:

1. Some people get Medicare automatically, and some have to sign up. You may have to sign up if you’re 65 (or almost 65) and not getting Social Security.

2. There are certain times of the year when you can sign up or change how you get your coverage.

3. If you sign up for Medicare Part B when you’re first eligible, you can avoid a penalty.*

4. You can choose how you get your Medicare coverage.

5. You may be able to get help with your Medicare costs.

Key Enrollment Periods

Initial Enrollment - Medicare enrollment starts three months before you turn 65 and goes through three months after the month you turn 65 years old. During that time, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, prescription drug coverage (Part D), and Medicare Advantage (Part C).

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment - This enrollment is for those looking to supplement their Original Medicare. As long as you have signed up for Part B, you can buy a supplemental plan during the six-month enrollment period. This enrollment period starts the first day of the month you turn 65 and lasts six months.

Annual Enrollment Period - This enrollment period is for anyone who wants to make changes to their current enrollment coverage. The enrollment period is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. The following changes can be made to your coverage at that time:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa

  • Add or drop a Medicare prescription drug plan

  • Switch to a new plan from your current insurer or to a new insurer

Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period - This enrollment period begins on Jan. 1 and ends on March 31 each year. This enrollment period allows for those enrolled in Medicare Advantage to either enroll in another Advantage Plan with or without prescription drug coverage or Original Medicare.

Did you know it costs no more to use a qualified professional insurance agent like our team at RCB & Associates to sign up correctly for your Medicare plan options than it does to go it alone online? And, you might not know this, but if you make any mistakes in signing up, the cost of penalties is added to your monthly premiums for the remainder of your life.*


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