When you turn 65, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare (at least Part A & B) But what about the other parts of Medicare?
Research Options Six Months Prior to Turning 65
You should begin researching your options about six months prior to turning 65. During this time you may want to peruse the plans available on Medicare.gov. Depending upon when your birthday is, those same plans may be available to you once you turn 65. You’ll also want to start researching Medicare Supplement Plans and determine whether you’d like to stick with Original Medicare or forego Original Medicare in favor of Medicare Advantage. Now is also the time to look at Medicare Part D which is your prescription drug coverage.
You can choose to research and enroll entirely on your own by using Medicare.gov. If you are looking at a Medicare Supplement Plan (aka Medigap), you’ll be redirected to contact the insurance carrier directly and work with an agent. You also have the option to work with a broker. This is, of course, our number one recommendation. A broker is a third-party liaison who works for you, not the insurance carrier. An agent is a representative of the carrier. There is no discount or incentive that you can receive by working with the insurance company directly, but it is a lot more legwork. Whatever route you choose, start doing your research about six months in advance. You’ll also need this time to figure out insurance options for any dependents you may have.
COBRA & Marketplace
If you have dependents who have their insurance through your plan, you’ll also need to figure out their insurance prior to turning 65. You have options.
The first, of course, is to arrange for a new plan entirely. When enrolling in Medicare and your dependents lose their insurance, they’ll enter into a special enrollment period. At this point, they can enroll in a marketplace plan on healthcare.gov.
Another option is to enroll in a short-term medical plan. Enrollment for short-term medical plans is year-round.
You may have also thought about COBRA. Your dependents can keep their health insurance through COBRA when you enroll in Medicare, but it is absolutely imperative that you do not keep COBRA for yourself. Dependents can keep their coverage even without you, but if you keep COBRA instead of Medicare, you will incur a late penalty. If you wish to defer Medicare, you must maintain creditable coverage and COBRA does not qualify.
Deferring Medicare When You Turn 65
You may defer Medicare past the age of 65 because you intend to work past 65 and keep your employer-sponsored group health coverage. If so, make sure you follow the instructions on the back of the card and send it back. If not, you will keep your Medicare coverage and there is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. Again follow the instructions on the back of the card and send it back.
If you do plan to enroll when you turn 65, you’ll most likely receive your card in the mail three months before you turn 65. This is the beginning of your initial enrollment period or IEP. This is the three months before 65, the month of your birthday, and the three months thereafter. During this time you can defer Medicare if you so choose. It’s your first opportunity to enroll in Medicare. If you’re not automatically enrolled you need to contact social security. If you choose to enroll in Medicare Part C, Part D or a Medigap Plan when you turn 65, the process is a little different
Original Medicare (Part A & B) offers excellent coverage but, there are definitely gaps. If you’re looking to cover these gaps or are in need of additional benefits, you may want to look into Medicare Advantage (Part C) or a Medicare Supplement Plan & Part D when you turn 65.
Part C & Part D
Your individual open enrollment period for Medicare Part C and Part D is the same as with Original Medicare. It’s the three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday and the three months thereafter. You can view all of the plans available on Medicare.gov and enroll there as well. You also have the option to use the chat feature or call Medicare.gov directly if you prefer. But again, we recommend working with a broker because there are many, many options to choose from.
When you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, you may also want to look into a Medicare Supplement Plan. The best time to enroll in the six-month period after you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare Part B. You can enroll year-round, but you only have guaranteed issues right during this initial six-month window. After that, you may have to undergo medical underwriting and could be denied or charged more.
If you’re turning 65, contact us at iHealthBrokers at 888-918-0518 or schedule an appointment today. Our services are 100% FREE.
Jesse Smedley is the Principal Broker for iHealthBrokers and the founder, president, and CEO of Smedley Insurance Group, Inc. and iHealthBrokers.com. Since the inception of SIG in 2007, Jesse has been dedicated to helping people save money on their health insurance by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their health insurance options, both under age 65 and Medicare beneficiaries. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for expert columns regarding health insurance and Medicare.