October 2012
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Medicare: The 5 Secrets of Signing-Up For Medicare

Medicare Open Enrollment season starts next week! Are you ready?

Just checking… but with Medicare Open Enrollment season is just about to start, we’re getting some panicked questions about all sorts of Medicare questions like I’ll be 65 next year. Should I be signing up during Medicare Open Enrollment? and I turned 65 next year, but I’m still working and getting my health insurance through work. Do I have to sign up for Medicare?

This is tricky stuff and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to signing up for Medicare. There are some really important things that you should know before you turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare thought that can save you a ton of worry, hassle and possible penalties (eek!), so here goes!

The 5 Secrets of Signing Up for Medicare:

1. If You Are Already Retired, Sign Up for Medicare When You Turn 65

Yes, if you’re already retired, plan to celebrate your 65th birthday by signing up for Medicare. And if you’d prefer to spend the day of your 65th birthday in more pleasurable ways, keep in mind that you have the window of three months before your 65th birthday and three months afterwards to sign up for Medicare before penalties kick in. In any case, you can sign up for Medicare online, via a toll-free telephone number or in person at a local Social Security office (make an appointment first).

This used to be the easy one when everyone retired when they turned 65, but with more people working past 65, it’s gotten much trickier. If you’re already receiving Social Security for some reason, don’t worry about it… you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare.

More likely, though. you’re still working and receiving health insurance through you’re employer….

2. If You’re Still Working and Getting Health Insurance Through an Employer, You Don’t Have To Sign Up For Medicare

If you’re still working (or your spouse is still working) and you’re getting health insurance through an employer, you do not have to sign up for Medicare. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t sign up for Medicare while you’re working. You still have the option of signing up for Medicare, but we advise you to talk to your company’s Human Resources department to talk over your health insurance options if you’re still working.

3. Medicare Does Not Cover Dependents i.e. Your Spouse or Children

Okay, one question we get from time to time is Why wouldn’t I want to sign up for Medicare at 65? And the answer is because Medicare covers only you. In other words, Medicare will not provide your spouse or children with health insurance unless they’re also eligible in some way. This is especially important if your spouse or child have a pre-existing condition and are currently getting their health insurance through your employer. If you drop your employer’s health insurance plan to sign up for Medicare, any dependent(s) with a pre-existing condition could have a very hard time finding affordable health insurance elsewhere.

4. Medicare Is Not Free

Nope, it may be way more affordable to you than the private health insurance market, but Medicare is definitely not free. Count on budgeting for monthly premiums, deductibles and co-payments or coinsurance of some kind, especially for prescription drugs. If you choose to stay with Original Medicare instead of a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to consider buying a Medigap policy to help with the out-of-pocket costs.

5. You Don’t Have To Be 65 To Get Medicare

Seniors over 65 are not the only people eligible for Medicare. If you have been getting disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months, you can receive Medicare at any age. Medicare also has no age requirements for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease or kidney failure.

Have you signed up for Medicare? Tell us about it!

Related posts:

  1. Medicare Enrollment: the 5 Secrets of Signing Up for Medicare
  2. Medicare Open Enrollment: 3 Secrets to Signing Up For Your Medicare
  3. Is Your Medicare Advantage Plan Being Dropped? 3 Open Enrollment Secrets to Medicare Advantage
  4. Medicare Open Enrollment: Would You Be Better Off Paying More For Your Medicare?
  5. Medicare Open Enrollment: I Signed Up For a Medicare Advantage Plan and Now I Want To Drop It!

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