Medicare provides health insurance for people age 65 and older. People with disabilities and permanent kidney failure may also qualify for Medicare. However, you need to check with Social Security if you are eligible to enroll in Medicare.
You can get your Medicare coverage in two ways: Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and Medicare Advantage.
Those eligible to get Medicare should enroll right away, or there may be penalties when you don’t enroll when you’re first eligible. There’s no need to enroll in Medicare every year, but it’s best to review your coverage to check if it still meets your needs or if there are still ways to lower your out-of-pocket costs.
How to Sign Up For Medicare
You are automatically signed up for Part A and Part B if you’re already getting Social Security benefits. Coverage starts on the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday falls on the first day of your birth month, your coverage begins on the first day of the previous month.
Those under 65 with disability benefits from Social Security are also automatically enrolled to get Part A and Part B Medicare. Only residents in Puerto Rico will need to sign up for Part B.
When you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your Medicare card three months before your 65th birthday or the 25th month of your disability benefits. Part A is premium-free and Part B is not. Should you choose not to keep Part B, you need to inform Medicare before the start date indicated on your Medicare card. Otherwise, you’ll start paying premiums for Part B through your Social Security benefits.
What if You’re Almost 65 but Not Getting Social Security Benefits?
If you’re not getting Social Security benefits, you need to enroll in Medicare for Part A and Part B. You can also set up an appointment with Social Security three months before you turn 65.
Make sure that you sign up for Part B when you’re first eligible to avoid paying a late enrollment penalty.
What Does Medicare Cover?
Part A or Hospital Insurance helps cover inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility and hospital, home health care, hospice care and inpatient care in a religious non-medical institution. You may be charged for the copayments, deductibles or coinsurance.
Part B can help cover services from health care providers and medical doctors, home health care, outpatient care, preventive services such as vaccines or screenings, and medical equipment such as hospital beds and wheelchairs.
Go to any hospital or doctor in the US that takes Medicare to get coverage.
Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements
Members who want more coverage with Medicare may get MA Plans from Medicare-approved private companies. Most Advantage Plans also include drug coverage, saving you more money when you get sick or confined in a hospital. You have the option to get an HMO, a Preferred Provider Organization Plan (PPO) and other types of Medicare Advantage Plans. We suggest that you get in touch with a Medicare expert to help you make an informed decision on what plan to acquire.
To help cover the remaining health costs, you may also consider getting a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap).