Three months prior to your 65th birthday, sign up for Medicare Part A at Medicare.gov. Typically, this coverage is at no cost if you have worked the minimum amount of quarters and have paid into the Medicare system.
You may choose to enroll in Part B. Retirees should understand that Part B will have a premium. The standard cost in 2016 was $121.80 a month for the average applicant. You may be subjected to pay more depending on your situation.
For those who are still working, contact your employer’s Human Resources department before enrolling into Part B. In the state of California, you can receive information about how your employer’s plan works and whether enrolling in Part B may invalidate that plan or not.
Medicare typically covers 80% of costs so you should prepare to have a supplemental insurance if you do not want to cover the remaining costs on your own. You may opt for a Managed Care, also known as Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Supplement plan. These plans allow you to visit any doctor who accepts Medicare coverage. Often times, your choice will be based on affordability of the Medicare Supplemental plan.
Individuals who choose a Medicare Advantage plan should check to see that it covers all medications. Otherwise, they may need to purchase a separate plan such as Veteran’s Benefits or Retiree Benefits. With a Medicare Advantage plan, you are not allowed to purchase a standalone drug plan.
Individuals who choose a Medicare Supplement plan may also purchase a standalone drug plan. This is if they have other creditable coverage such as VA benefits.
It is important that you do not cancel current insurance coverage until the new plan is in effect. Wait for confirmation from your insurance before canceling any existing plans to ensure lack of coverage or gaps with insurance.
Here are some helpful items to keep in mind if:
- you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan - there is no further action needed.
- you are a California resident - a birthday rule applies to where you can check your premium annually for the lowest rates without having to qualify medically.
- you have a MAPD plan or standalone Prescription Drug plan - check the plan annually to ensure it still meets your needs. You are allowed to make changes during open enrollment in the next calendar year.