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Medicare and Turning 65: How to Prepare for Retirement

Congratulations, you’re approaching retirement! This exciting stage of life looks different for every individual and offers a wealth of opportunities. It also may mean enrolling in Medicare and turning 65. We’re here to make these important transitions a little easier, so you can spend more time celebrating and doing what you love.

Understanding Medicare

Medicare is a federal program run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It provides healthcare coverage for most Americans age 65 and older, as well as some adults under 65 in specific circumstances.

Original Medicare—the coverage that most adults are automatically eligible for—consists of Parts A and B. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, hospice, and some home healthcare. Medicare Part B covers medically necessary outpatient services, such as doctor visits, durable medical equipment, lab tests, ambulance services, mental health care, and preventive services.

Part A typically has no premium, and most Medicare beneficiaries pay a premium for Part B.

Know Your Enrollment Period

There’s a lot to know about Medicare and turning 65. Did you know you can enroll in Original Medicare and other Medicare plans only during specific enrollment periods? You’re given a seven-month window when you turn 65, known as your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month of your birthday, and concludes three months after your birthday.

During this enrollment period, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, if necessary (some individuals are automatically enrolled through Social Security). You can also enroll in additional coverage plans, such as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Part D which provides prescription drug coverage.

When you figure out your Initial Enrollment Period, you may want to mark those dates on your calendar to make sure you enroll in plenty of time.

Research Additional Coverage

Original Medicare, the federal coverage you receive when you enroll in Medicare at 65, doesn’t provide coverage for benefits like vision, dental, hearing, and prescription drugs. To receive more coverage, you can enroll in Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies that are contracted with the federal government.

Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap): Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans help with paying out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, copays and coinsurance. These plans don’t offer additional benefits and typically don’t provide prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D): Part D plans—sometimes called PDPs—offer coverage only for prescription drugs. Each plan has a formulary—a list of the drugs covered, often in different pricing tiers.

Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C): Medicare Advantage Plans provide coverage for the benefits included in Medicare Parts A and B, and often have additional benefits as well. Part C benefits can include vision, dental, hearing, prescription drugs, fitness, transportation, over-the-counter supplies, and more. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll continue to pay your Part B premium, as well as the premium for the Medicare Advantage Plan, which may be as low as $0.

You can find Medicare Advantage Plans in your area by using our Medicare Online Enrollment Portal. Easily compare plan costs and benefits, then enroll in the plan of your choice, all online and all at no additional cost.

Let’s Make Medicare and Turning 65 Much Easier

If you need assistance at any step in your Medicare journey, we’re here to help. Call for your no-cost consultation with a Medicare Advocate at 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday to Friday.