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Medicare and Turning 65: 5 Steps to Simplify Your Search for the Right Medicare Plan

medicare-and-turning-65-simplify-search

There are a lot of important decisions to make when you’re becoming eligible for Medicare and turning 65. We put together a roadmap with five steps that should help guide and simplify your decisions about your Medicare plan.

Step 1: Understand Enrollment Periods

When you’re becoming eligible for Medicare and turning 65, you have a 7-month window, called the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which spans three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month, and three months after. If you don’t enroll during this time, you may face penalties that vary across the individual parts of Medicare.

Learn more about all the Medicare enrollment periods

Step 2: Decide If You’ll Continue to Work

According to a United Income report, more than 20 percent of Americans aged 65 and up are working or looking for work. This scenario introduces some unique questions and options regarding if and when to enroll in Medicare.

Learn more about your three options when working past 65

Step 3: Know What Original Medicare Does and Doesn’t Cover

There’s no cost for Medicare. You can enroll at any time. The misconceptions about what Original Medicare, that’s Parts A and B, cost and cover are many. It’s important to make sure you educate yourself on what is and isn’t included in Original Medicare and compare that to the care, services, and costs you can live with.

Learn more about what Original Medicare does and doesn’t cover

Step 4: Understand Your Options

You have four basic options when it comes to Medicare coverage:

Original Medicare: This consists of Part A (inpatient/hospital coverage) and Part B (outpatient/doctor coverage). As of 2018, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports 40 million U.S. Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Original Medicare. Original Medicare doesn’t cover vision, dental, hearing, and prescription drugs. That’s why many Medicare beneficiaries choose additional or alternate coverage.

Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap): Roughly 13 million Medicare beneficiaries choose Medicare Supplements to help with out-of-pocket costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. They primarily assist with expenses versus providing additional benefits.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D): Since Original Medicare and most Medicare Supplements don’t provide prescription drug coverage, Part D Plans—sometimes called PDPs—provide standalone coverage for prescription drugs.

Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C): Medicare Advantage Plans are an alternative to Original Medicare. They include everything covered in Medicare Parts A and B, and many include dental, vision, hearing, fitness, and prescription drug coverage. Some have premiums, deductibles, and copays as low as $0. This may explain why Kaiser Family Foundation reports Medicare Advantage enrollment has nearly doubled in the past ten years. In 2019, 34 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, or 22 million people, were enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans.

Get more details about Medicare Advantage Plan benefits

Step 5: Identify Your Must-haves

Before comparing Medicare plans, it’s helpful to assess your specific needs and priorities, so you can find a plan that fits your health, lifestyle, and budget. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Physicians—Make a list of physicians that are critical to your care, so you can make sure they’re in the plan’s network
  • Prescription Drugs—Write down all your prescription drugs, so it’s easy to check the plan’s formulary for coverage
  • Vision—Up to 75 percent of Americans wear eyeglasses and the cost of eyeglasses can add up quickly
  • Dental—Cleanings may not be costly but advanced procedures, such as crowns or dentures, can get pricey
  • Hearing—Nearly 38 million adults have hearing loss and, while The Better Hearing Institute reports that up to 95 percent can be treated with hearing aids, they can get expensive

Medicare and Turning 65 Really Can Be Simple

Our Medicare Advocates are here to make becoming eligible for Medicare and turning 65 as stress-free as possible. Simply call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday for your no-cost personalized consultation.

Visit our Medicare Online Enrollment Portal to quickly and easily find and compare Medicare Advantage Plans available in your area, including prescription drug coverage and physician networks. You can enroll through the same convenient portal.