Signing up for Medicare can seem like a daunting process. There’s a lot you need to understand and the choices can seem confusing.
Knowing when to sign up and what you’re signing up for is a couple of the biggest hurdles.
It can help to break down the information into easier-to-understand chunks.
Parts A, B, C and D
Medicare’s four parts each cover different types of insurance or certain services. The first two parts, A and B, have been a part of the program since its inception (they’re called “Original Medicare”). Parts C and D were added later.
Let’s look more closely at each part:
- Part A provides for inpatient hospital care, certain kinds of home health care, hospice and skilled nursing facilities. If you or your spouse have accumulated at least 40 Social Security work credits, there is no premium.
- Part B covers the services of a doctor, outpatient hospital care, preventive care and certain kinds of home health care. It is required that you pay a monthly premium for Part B with the amount dependent on income guidelines.
- Part C is an alternative way to receive the benefits of Parts A and B but through private insurance companies that have been approved by Medicare. Part C is also referred to as Medicare Advantage. Keep in mind that to take advantage of Part C, you also need to be enrolled in Parts A and B. Most Part C plans will also include Part D.
- Part D is for prescription drugs. It’s an optional benefit and is only available through private insurance companies. You’ll want to analyze your expenditures for prescription drugs in order to choose the Part D plan that’s best for your needs.
When to enroll
There is an initial enrollment period that extends from the three months before you turn 65, through the month you turn 65 and up to three months after.
Here are the recommended times to sign up for each part of Medicare:
- When you become eligible for Medicare you should enroll in Part A immediately, due to the fact that it doesn’t require you to pay a premium. You can enroll even if you’re still working and covered by the health insurance of your company.
- Signing up for Part B is a little more difficult than Part A. It’s important that you get the timing just right if you’re not enrolling when you sign up for Part A. You will be stuck paying a permanent penalty if you enroll late. The penalty goes up by 10% for every year that you were eligible and didn’t sign up.
- As for Part D, it’s best to sign up at the same time you enroll in Part B. Keep in mind that you will also incur a permanent late penalty if you don’t sign up for Part D when you’re eligible. There’s an exception for Part D, however. If you already have prescription drug coverage that is as good as Part D you’ll be exempt from the penalty.
When you need help
Sometimes you need a little guidance to navigate these decisions. It can certainly be tricky to understand.
It’s a good idea to seek out the guidance of a professional.
Insurance experts not only understand all the confusing language of healthcare policies but can also explain them to you in a way that you understand.
Personalized attention will ensure that you are enrolled at the right time and in the right plan for you!
What aspect of enrolling in Medicare causes you the most concern?