Medicare is an excellent healthcare option for seniors and those with certain medical problems. However, the process of enrolling in medicare can be a little bit intimidating. There are a lot of different things to consider when it comes to Medicare, and it’s easy to get lost in the details early on.
Fortunately, it’s simpler to navigate Medicare than you may think – all you need is a good game plan. Here’s a step-by-step guide to give you a confident start.
Enrolling in Medicare: The Easy Four Step Guide
Does this confusing image represent how your medicare planning felt? Not to worry, follow these steps to make things a whole lot clearer!
Step 1: Do Your Research
Before you dive straight into Medicare enrollment, take some time to research the program thoroughly. Medicare is designed to work for people across the spectrum of income and need, so there are many stipulations. Unfortunately, this means it can be pretty confusing.
There are tons of resources available online to help you make sense of all the parts, details, and terminology you’ll see when investigating Medicare. You can also meet with a representative at your local Social Security office to ask questions. Remember: Being informed means being better equipped to make the best choices for your future.
Step 2: Determine Eligibility
Next, you should determine when you’ll be eligible for enrolling in medicare. For most people, you can enroll during a seven-month period that begins three months before the month you turn 65. If you sign up during those first three months, your Medicare coverage will kick in on the first day of your birthday month.
This is the ideal time to sign up, but it’s not the only option available. There is also an annual period at the beginning of each year where anyone over the age of 65 can apply for Medicare, although you’ll see extra fees for signing up outside of your initial enrollment period.
There are also special enrollment periods during which you can apply for Medicare without the additional sign-up fees. Losing employer-covered insurance or moving back to the U.S. after living in another country are good examples, among others.
Step 3: Pick the Parts You Need
Once you know when you can apply, you need to make a decision about which parts of Medicare make the most sense for you. Parts A and B are considered “Original Medicare.” All Medicare subscribers are enrolled in Part A, which covers hospitalizations and other kinds of inpatient care. You must decide whether you would also like to enroll in Part B, which covers other kinds of medical care like wellness checks and diagnostic services. If you decline Part B initially and then add it on later, it comes with an increased premium.
Parts C and D are additional options available to you. Private insurance companies offer Part C, or Medicare Advantage plans. These plans come with higher premiums but can get you access to extra coverage like dental and vision care. Part D is a prescription drug plan – a valuable addition for anyone who needs regular medication.
Carefully weigh your needs to figure out what parts of Medicare are best for you. If you’re unsure, it may help to consult a doctor or social security representative to help you figure out the best options.
Step 4: Sign Up Online, By Phone, or In Person
Once you’re ready to enroll, you can do so one of several ways. Many seniors enjoy the convenience of applying online. You can do this from the comfort of your home. It gives you an easy way to double-check the information as you go along. You can also call Social Security and enroll over the phone (1-800-772-1213). Or sign up at your local Social Security office. These are great options for those who would prefer to check in with a representative as they move through the process.
There’s a lot to figure out when enrolling in Medicare, but that doesn’t mean it’s too much to handle. Do your research and ask for help when you need it, and you might find the process much simpler than you’d anticipated. Once you’re enrolled, you can rest easy knowing you have access to quality medical care.