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Medicare and Turning 65: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

There are a lot of details you need to wade through when you’re eligible for Medicare and turning 65. It can be overwhelming, and costly, if you miss important information that can wreak havoc with your expenses. All at a time when living on a budget is more important than ever.

We’ve compiled these key details for you to help make sure you enter retirement with your eyes wide open and no expensive surprises.

Stick to Your Enrollment Period

Medicare restricts enrollment to specific periods depending on age and other circumstances. When you’re first eligible for Medicare and turning 65, your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period lasts seven months, beginning three months before your 65th birthday and ending three months after. During your Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B), a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, or a Medicare Advantage Plan that combines many of these benefits into one convenient plan.

Learn more about when and how to enroll.

Learn more about all the Medicare enrollment periods.

Avoid Penalties for Late Enrollment

If you don’t enroll for Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, you’ll have to pay a 10 percent penalty on your Part B premium for every 12 months you don’t have coverage. If that isn’t bad enough, many individuals who are eligible for Medicare and turning 65 aren’t aware they’ll be penalized for not having Part D prescription drug coverage. If you don’t have Part D coverage for 63 days or more following your Initial Enrollment Period, your premium will increase one percent for every month you don’t have coverage and the penalty continues throughout your retirement. You can enroll in a standalone Part D Plan, or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes prescription drug coverage.

Learn more about how to enroll without penalties.

Know What You Need and If It’s Covered

Many individuals who are transitioning to Medicare and turning 65 don’t realize all the major benefits Original Medicare doesn’t cover. Parts A and B cover things like hospital stays and doctor visits but don’t include important benefits, such as vision, dental, hearing, and prescription drug coverage.

Make sure you identify all the care and services you need before making enrollment decisions. We also recommend making lists of your current physicians and prescription drugs, so you can be sure they’re covered in whatever plan you choose.

If you wear glasses or contact, have dentures, or need prescription drug coverage, you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage Plan. While these plans are known as Medicare Part C, they’re offered by private insurance companies and vary by geography. Medicare Advantage Plans include all Medicare Parts A and B services, and many also include vision, hearing, dental, even prescription drug coverage. These benefits are bundled in one convenient plan and some offer $0 premiums, deductibles, and copays which is another huge plus. The Medicare Online Enrollment Portal makes it easy to find Medicare Advantage Plans in your area, including side-by-side comparisons of plans from various insurance providers all in one convenient place. You can even enroll on the same portal.

We’re Here to Help

Getting up to speed on Medicare and turning 65 can be stressful. We’re here to make it easy. Our Medicare Advocates are standing by to help you find, evaluate, and enroll in a Medicare plan that’s right for you. Call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711 today for your no-cost consultation, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

More Resources for Medicare and Turning 65

Myths About Medicare and Turning 65

A, B, C, and Ds of Medicare

Making Sense of Medicare Enrollment

I Plan to Keep Working, So What Are My Options

A Checklist for Medicare and Turning 65