Turning 65? What You Need to Know About Medicare

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The solicitations have started pouring in, it seems everyone knows you’re turning 65 and they want you to buy their Medicare insurance.  Before you swear-off checking your mail; here are some key pieces to remember as you approach 65.
You should be receiving information from Social Security or Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These are the two federal agencies that coordinate Medicare and they could be mailing you an ID card, enrollment or premium letters. You want to make sure you read this information. Since Medicare is the health insurance program for most permanently disabled and seniors; it is important you know how this can affect your current insurance coverage.
Step 1: Signing up for Medicare:
Medicare begins the first of the month you turn 65, unless you were born on the first day of the month.  Not everyone is automatically enrolled so you will have to check with SSA.gov to see if you’ll get Medicare Part A and Part B automatically. 
Original Medicare consists of Part A and Part B.  You will need to decide if you need both, neither, or just Part A and not Part B.  This decision should be based on whether or not you have access to other health coverage like employer coverage, TRICARE and other VA benefits, or an individual policy.  The type of insurance, the monthly premium you pay, the benefits, even the size of the employer you work for, will all play a factor in your decision to enroll in Original Medicare.
Once you have decided which parts, if any, to enroll in; you will want to make sure your timing is accurate so you don’t risk a lapse in coverage.  I personally recommend starting the research and planning process at least 3 months ahead of age 65. 
Step 2. Choosing coverage
If you have decided to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B and make Medicare your health coverage of choice, it is now time to pick out a private Medicare policy.  You may hear terms like Part C, Part D, Plan F, etc.  These are all private insurance policies.  Only Part A and Part B are Original Medicare.
You will need to decide if you prefer a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Part C (like an HMO or PPO).  Or, do you prefer to keep Original Medicare and pair it with a Medicare Supplement and/or Part D drug plan.  This decision will come down to multiple factors like, how you utilize healthcare, budget, premiums, health factors, and doctors/hospitals preference.
Step 3: Know your resources: 
It is recommended that you start planning early.  Work with a professional to get your questions answered.  Medicare.gov, NC Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, and brokers/agents are great resources.  Pick what is going to work best for you and your unique situation.  While asking friends about their experience and choices can be helpful; everyone is unique and what works for your friend may not work for you.”
If you have questions, our Medicare specialist is ready to help. Contact Liz Gallops at 336.774.3467 or email lgallops@allegacy.org.

Information in this article is for informational purposes only. Please contact the Social Security Administration if more information is needed.

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