With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day there is one complicated and pressing issue on everyone’s mind, Medicare. Admittedly, for someone who has never looked into the issue, learning about Medicare can be intimidating as it is an information overload. But do not despair there is a local family owned agency in Southern Maine that’s ready to walk down that path with you.
How do I get enrolled in Medicare?
Whether or not you will be automatically enrolled or if you will need to enroll yourself depends on whether or not you are collecting Social Security. Because full retirement age for Social Security benefits is 66, many people will continue to work past age 65. It is important to remember that if you work past age 65 and have credible coverage through an employer you do not have to enroll in Medicare and you will not be penalized later.
However, Medicare is still worth looking into because often employer plans have high deductibles, so you can often get better coverage for less money through Medicare. If you are eligible for Medicare and do not sign up in the first eight months of eligibility and do not have other credible coverage, then Medicare will impose a 10% annual penalty on your part B premium.
If you are collecting Social Security you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare. Medicare Parts A and B will start the first day of the month that you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of previous month. At this point you will receive an “Initial Enrollment Package” that welcomes you to the program. This is mailed to you three months before your 65th birthday month and will include your new Medicare card. If you don’t want Medicare Part B at this time follow the instructions on the back of the card otherwise Medicare coverage will begin the first day of the month of eligibility.
At this point the mailbox will begin to fill with solicitations from every other insurance company in the country and you have a choice to make. Do you try to sort through this pile and call all the different companies across the country with my questions for each one, or would you rather make one call and talk to someone local who works with all the different companies to answer my questions?
If you are not collecting Social Security, but want to enroll in Medicare you must do so yourself. There are three ways that you can enroll, the quickest and most efficient is to enroll online through the Social Security website. However, if you go to Medicare.gov first it will take you right to where you need to be on the Social Security website rather than have to search to find the spot where you enroll. Please feel free to call us if you have any questions about that. This is the quickest way and you should receive your card and 3 to 4 weeks.
If you struggle with computers you can go directly to the Social Security office nearest you. We recommend that you arrive at the Social Security office early as the lines grow quickly and wait times can increase to see a representative. They should enroll you at that time and your Medicare card should arrive within 3 to 4 weeks.
Another option is to call Social Security and set up a telephone interview where a representative will call you at a pre-determined date and time. Keep in mind it can take up to six weeks to get that call date set up.
Once enrolled in Medicare your Initial Election Period (IEP) begins. This period lasts for seven months. Three months before your 65th birthday month, the month of your 65th birthday and three months after your 65th birthday month. During this time you may pick up any Medicare supplement plan, Medicare advantage plan and prescription drug plan with no medical underwriting and no pre-existing conditions clauses. You are in what is called a guaranteed issue period.