If you're approaching your 65th birthday, it's time to start thinking about applying for Medicare. It can be a confusing process, so don't wait until the last minute to get started. There are specific enrollment windows, and if you miss yours and apply late, you might have to pay a fine. Here is a general overview of how you go about applying for Medicare coverage.
Your Seven Month Window
You apply for coverage during the seven month window that surrounds your birthday. This includes your birthday month and the three months before it and the three months after it. Even if you have health insurance through your employer or through the Healthcare Marketplace, you still need to apply for Medicare when you turn 65. You only need to apply once, but you can adjust your application once each year in the final quarter of the year. The changes to your coverage would then take place at the beginning of the following year.
Choose Straight Medicare Or A Health Plan
The first choice you have to make is if you will pick a straight Medicare plan or if you'll go for a health plan like an HMO from an insurance company. If you choose Medicare only, you'll need to sign up for Part A and Part B. Part A pays for hospital stays and skilled care treatment in a nursing home. Part B pays for doctor visits and tests. If you need to take several expensive medications, you may also want to sign up for Part D, which is prescription coverage. The other option is to choose a plan like a Medicare Advantage Plan. There are several types of health plans that are offered by various insurance carriers. Because coverage varies so much, if you're interested in one of these plans, you should investigate each one and compare their benefits and costs.
How To Apply For Coverage
Once you've made your decision on the type of Medicare coverage you want, you can apply for it online on Medicare's website. If you want a health plan instead, you can apply on the insurance company's website or through an agent. There are several places to get help with the decision and application process if you need it. If you're still employed, seek help from your Human Resources department. You can also call Medicare or visit a local office to talk to someone in person. You can also talk to individual insurance agents or attend seminars for retirees sponsored by an insurance company.
Applying for Medicare can seem daunting at first, but keep in mind if you make a mistake, you can always change the type of coverage you want at the end of the year. You may need to switch providers a few times until you find a doctor and a plan that is a good match for you, especially if you move to another state after you retire. For more information, contact a company like Continental Insurance Agency, LLC.