You’re first eligible for Medicare at age 65—technically, three months before your 65th birthday—but what if you plan on still working after this? Even if you have coverage through your employer (or your spouse’s employer), certain Medicare decisions have to be made at this time.
Be sure to check with your employer before your 65th birthday and before your Initial Enrollment Period to confirm the company’s requirements, as some employers require you to still enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) at age 65. Additionally, it might be worth comparing your Medicare coverage options to your employer’s coverage to see what is the best option for you. If you’re still covered by your employer or your spouse’s employer, you may still have the option of only enrolling in Part A (which is free for most people and provides hospital coverage) in addition to your employer’s healthcare plan. Once that is established, and as you remain working past 65, here are some key terms to remember for when the time comes to fully enroll in Medicare.
Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the seven-month timeframe surrounding your 65th birthday that you are eligible to enroll in Medicare. If you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits at this time, you will automatically be enrolled, but if you are not, you must sign up for Medicare Parts A and/or B. If you plan to retire later than 65, you can still sign up for Parts A and/or B during IEP and elect for more coverage for once you retire or you can delay Part B coverage if you are still receiving coverage through your employer and wait to avoid a potential additional premium.
Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
The Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP) takes place when certain events or life changes occur, giving you the chance to make changes to your existing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug coverage. According to Medicare.gov, you are able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Your chance to do so lasts for two full months after the month of your coverage ends.1
The Four Medicare Parts
Medicare Part A – Helps cover most inpatient hospital, skilled nursing home, home health and hospice care. There is a monthly premium for Part A, but many people will qualify for premium-free Part A.2
Medicare Part B – Covers routine doctor visits, including specialists to treat your medical conditions. It also covers preventative services, which is meant to prevent illness (like the flu) or to detect at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to work best. There is a monthly premium for Part B.
Medicare Part C – Medicare Part C plans, also called Medicare Advantage, work in place of your Part A and Part B benefits. Premiums and costs will vary among plans for copayments, coinsurance and deductibles, so it’s important to compare plans in your area. These plans often include additional benefits like coverage for dental, vision or hearing and may have a $0/mo. premium.2
Medicare Part D – Medicare Part D plans, also referred to as Medicare Prescription Drug plans, help cover the cost of prescription medications. It can be purchased in addition to Medicare Part A, B or Medicare Supplement Plans, giving you broader healthcare coverage and potentially saving you money.
Applying for Medicare
You can apply for Medicare online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare, by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-877-486-2048), or by visiting your local Social Security Office.
Let SelectQuote Help
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2 This is not a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048 ), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
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