Medicare Eligibility and Enrollment

If you’re turning 65 this year, your Medicare choices will definitely be one of your most important decisions. Most older adults start learning about Medicare in the months leading up to their 65th birthday — when the flash flood of mailers comes in. Making time to understand your options now can help you prepare for your Medicare-related costs. Hale Health Benefits is here to explain who qualifies for Medicare and when to sign up. 

Who All Is Eligible for Medicare?

You qualify when you’re at least 65 years old or under 65 and eligible based on a disability or other unique situation. You also have to be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident who has lived in the U.S. for at least five years in a row.

When Should You Enroll in Medicare?

It depends if you or your spouse are actively working and if you have health coverage through an employer. Many seniors are concerned about missing important deadlines and being charged a penalty. If you’re retired and not covered by your spouse’s employer coverage, you usually will want to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period or IEP. This is a 7-month window surrounding your 65th birthday.

Are You Already Collecting Social Security Benefits?

You should know that some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare. For these people, they can relax knowing they won’t have to worry about missing their window to access coverage. Automatic enrollment can also serve as a reminder to review your health insurance and adjust the coverage to meet your individual needs.

If you’re already collecting Social Security benefits, you’ll be auto-enrolled into Part A and Part B. You don’t need to do anything, and the coverage will begin on the first day of the month your turn 65. You’ll get your Medicare card in the mail about three months before your 65th birthday.

Research Additional Coverage Options

Once you have your red, white, and blue Medicare card, you can enroll in other Medicare options, such as:

✔ Medicare Supplement Insurance

✔ Medicare Part D 

✔ Medicare Advantage

You’ll want to go over these additional coverage options with a licensed agent because, with Original Medicare, you’ll still be responsible for roughly 20% of your medical bills.

Other Medicare Enrollment Periods You Should Know

If you don’t enroll during Initial Enrollment, you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period or a Special Enrollment Period. However, you could have to pay a permanent fine for delaying Medicare enrollment when you turned 65. Make a mental note or mark your calendar for these dates:

  • General Enrollment Period – January 1 through March 31: Anyone who missed their IEP can enroll in Original Medicare.
  • Annual Enrollment Period – October 15 through December 7: Anyone with Medicare can add, drop, or switch their Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan.
  • Special Enrollment Period – Depends on eligibility: If you move or something happens that is beyond your control, you’ll likely be granted a special period to enroll in Medicare.
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Get Started with Medicare

It’s vital to understand how to get started with Medicare, whether it occurs automatically or not.

For more questions about Medicare eligibility and enrollment, please call Hale Health Benefits today!