Time for a quick review of Medicare enrollment considerations, as you or a family member is preparing for retirement.
When should I begin the process?
You should prepare for your retirement and learn about your health insurance options well in advance of turning 65. You have a lot of information to consider and many decisions to make.
a. Will your spouse have to find other coverage if they are not yet Medicare eligible? what are the options available?
b. Which Medicare D prescription drug plan is the best for your current needs? (This should be reviewed annually as your medications change. The premiums, drugs covered, and your out of pocket costs for the various plans could also change.)
c. If you are eligible for a Medicare C Advantage program, make sure you compare the covered benefits and providers in your area with the traditional Medicare plans A&B.
d. Which supplemental (Medigap) plan will work best for your lifestyle: both cost and coverage.
Make an appointment for a personal interview at your local Social Security office in advance of your retirement date. Not only can they provide valuable information about your social security benefits, they can also answer questions about the Medicare program.
Working beyond age 65
If you are going to work beyond age 65 and will have employee health coverage, make sure there is a pharmacy component included in your medical insurance plan. You do not want to incur the Medicare D lifetime penalty for not enrolling in drug coverage in a timely manner.
Become familiar with Medicare’s preventive services
Review the preventive services for which you are eligible through Medicare (available online at Medicare.gov)
a. tests and frequency allowable
b. Immunizations covered by Medicare
c. Annual wellness visit with your primary physician and what is included in this visit
Initial Medicare Enrollment Period
Initial enrollment for the Medicare program begins three months before your 65th birthday, your 65th birthday month, and three months after your 65th birthday month.
If you enroll prior to your birthday month, your Medicare benefits will become effective the first day of your birthday month. If you enroll for benefits during your birthday month or during the three months after, your benefits will be delayed.
There are penalties for not enrolling in Medicare within the prescribed time limits. You want to avoid them, as they are in many cases lifetime penalties.
Do my current health providers accept Medicare patients?
Talk to your healthcare providers to make sure that they are part of the Medicare program. If not, you need to decide how you will receive your health coverage once you are insured by Medicare.
Resources available to assist you with the Medicare enrollment process
Become familiar with the resources online for Medicare, Social Security, and AARP to name just a few.
Don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions until you understand your options. Ask for assistance: this is a very confusing and complicated process. You want to get everything done with Medicare enrollment the first time.