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4 Things Everyone Who’s Eligible for Medicare and Turning 65 Should Know

Enrolling in Medicare and turning 65 are huge milestones that are part of an exciting stage of your life. Like many big transitions, these milestones also mean making a lot of new decisions. Here are four key things you need to know before diving in head first.

You have a designated Medicare enrollment period.

Medicare enrollment isn’t open to all people at all times. When you’re eligible for Medicare and turning 65, you have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) that begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after your birthday month. During this Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Original Medicare—Parts A and B—if you weren’t automatically enrolled through Social Security.

You can also enroll in Medicare plans offered by private insurance carriers, such as Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. These plans are approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and different plans are offered in each geographic area.

You can pay fees for enrolling late.

If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B and a plan with prescription drug coverage (Part D) during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can get stuck paying higher fees on those plans for the rest of your retirement. The longer you’re without coverage, the higher the fees.

Learn more about Part B and Part D late enrollment fees.

Original Medicare doesn’t include prescription drug coverage.

Original Medicare—the federal healthcare coverage made up of Parts A and B—doesn’t include prescription drug coverage. You can get that coverage through a Part D Plan or through a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage, which is sometimes abbreviated MA-PD.

You can get additional benefits by enrolling in Medicare Advantage.

Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by private insurance companies, and these plans include the same coverage offered by Original Medicare while also typically providing additional benefits. Possible benefits include:

  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Hearing
  • Prescription Drug
  • Fitness
  • Wellness
  • & more!

Some Medicare Advantage Plans may be available with premiums, deductibles, and copays as low as $0.

Learn More About Your Options

Making decisions about Medicare and turning 65 don’t have to be stressful. To find out what plans and benefits you might be eligible for, simply call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday to Friday. Our Medicare Advocates are standing by to provide your no-cost personalized consultation.

You can also find, compare, and enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans on your own through the Medicare Online Enrollment Portal.