Some of the biggest milestones of growing older happen when people are in their 60s. In the United States, full retirement age is between 66 and 67, depending on what year you were born. At that age, you'll qualify for full Social Security retirement benefits, though you may choose to start drawing on Social Security earlier or later than that.
You may also be retiring from full-time work, which means you could be losing employer health insurance or seeing your benefits reduced. It's important to know that whether you are turning 65, or are already 65 and losing your group insurance, you are now eligible for Medicare. In fact, you can apply for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday, and it will begin on the first day of the month of your birthday. Original Medicare will cover about 80 percent of your medical costs. You are responsible for the other 20 percent. That is why you will want to have supplemental insurance to cover that gap.
While it's important to educate yourself on the various available options, you should also make sure to consult with an experienced insurance agent specializing in Medicare insurance before making the final decision on your Medicare and health insurance needs.
Here's how Medicare works.
If you're enrolled in Social Security by 65, you may have automatically been enrolled in Medicare
U.S. citizens can apply for and begin receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62. While you can't apply for Medicare at that age, already being enrolled in your Social Security retirement plan may mean you will be automatically signed up for Medicare when you turn 65.
Enrollment for Medicare has precise deadlines
If you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare at age 65, you should be aware there are certain deadlines you'll have to meet in order to enroll without paying a penalty. Original Medicare has two main parts. Part A provides hospital coverage and is available to everyone even if you're still employed or have employer-provided health insurance. It is also free to most of those who apply, as long as they have worked at least 40 quarters (10 years) in the United States.
Medicare Part B provides coverage for medical expenses and requires you to pay a monthly premium.
"To enroll (in Medicare) when turning 65, you need to sign up during the seven-month time period that begins three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, or the three months after you turn 65," explains Jeff Wetzel, President and CEO of Bridlewood Insurance
Not everyone needs Part A and Part B Medicare coverage right away
If you're still working and receiving health insurance from an employer with more than 20 employees, you may choose to put off applying for Part B until you leave your employer’s group plan. You'll have an eight-month special enrollment period after you lose employer-provided health coverage to sign up for Part B.
If, however, you don't qualify for special enrollment and you choose to enroll in Part B outside of the seven months surrounding your 65th birthday, you may be subject to pay an increased Part B premium amount every month after that. It’s a good idea to check with your Bridlewood agent to make sure of your options.
Medicare has other options depending on your needs
While most people have heard of Medicare Part A and Part B, they might not understand what their other options are. For instance, you may choose to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan which Bridlewood Insurance explains is an insurance plan that "combines the benefits of Parts A and B and, in most cases, includes Part D prescription drug coverage and may include extra benefits like dental, vision, transportation and more.”
Alternatively, you can purchase a separate Part D plan that just covers prescriptions and/or enroll in a Medigap or Supplemental coverage plan which will help cover services and expenses traditional Medicare doesn't cover.
Understanding how Medicare works and how and when to enroll in it can be a complicated process with many important decisions to make along the way. Some insurance companies, like Bridlewood Insurance of San Diego, offer free, professional consulting services to help you make the best decision for your health and your lifestyle.
Contact Bridlewood Insurance today to find out more about applying for Medicare and learn how its experienced team can assist you with all your important Medicare decisions.