Happy Birthday! Turning 65 is a big milestone around here. Anyone turning 65 in 2021 (or with January 2022 birthdays) will become eligible for Medicare benefits by October of this year.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there about Medicare and choosing the right plan. There are multiple parts and certain requirements you have to adhere to—not to mention the onslaught of mail you’ll be getting this year! To help you keep everything straight, here are a 5 simple reminders for anyone turning 65 in 2021.
1. You May Automatically Be Enrolled in Medicare
Anyone within 3 months of turning 65 is eligible to enroll in Medicare, but depending on your circumstance, you will either be enrolled automatically in Medicare or you will have to sign up on your own.
If you already receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), or will receive benefits at least four months before you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.
The Social Security Administration or RRB will send you information regarding your Medicare coverage in the mail.
If you don’t currently receive benefits from Social Security or the RRB, however, you will have to sign up on your own.
2. Mark Your Calendar So You Don’t Miss Your Enrollment Window
Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare is the seven-month window around your 65th birthday — the month of your birthday, the three months before, and the three months after.
If you miss your window, you could face gaps in health insurance coverage and late enrollment penalties. Missing your IEP window also means you have to wait for another enrollment period such as the Annual Enrollment Period, which begins in October, or the General Enrollment Period, which begins in January.
Of course, there are special circumstances that make you eligible for a Special Election Period (SEP). Losing employer coverage or moving could both make you eligible for an SEP.
3. There Are Consequences For Not Enrolling In Medicare When You Become Eligible
You are technically not required to enroll in Medicare when you turn 65, but in most cases you will incur a penalty surcharge on your monthly premium that you will have to pay as long as you have Part B.
If you still have employer coverage when you turn 65, then the requirements are different. It’s important to talk to a Medicare specialist about your particular circumstance to ensure you don’t incur any unnecessary costs.
4. Explore All Your Medicare Options Before Choosing a Plan
Medicare can be confusing to first-time enrollees, as there are several different options offered. Not every plan, however, is right for every person. You have unique needs and the key is finding the best plan to fit those needs. Your Medicare options include these four parts:
Medicare Part A. This is part of Original Medicare that is for Hospital Insurance. This covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
Medicare Part B. This is part of Original Medicare that is for Medical Insurance. This covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, and preventative services.
Medicare Part C. Part C, or Medicare Advantage, offers bundled plans that combine parts A, B, and even D for maximum coverage.
Medicare Part D. Part D is the prescription drug benefit component of Medicare. It must be added on to Original Medicare (Part A or B) or it can be included as part of a Medicare Advantage Plan.
5. Get an Expert Opinion Before You Enroll
Medicare can be confusing, overwhelming, and difficult to understand for anyone. If you are not sure where to go from here or what plan is best for you, talking to a Medicare expert can help get you going in the right direction.
If you’re entering your Medicare eligibility window, schedule an appointment with a Medicare Advisor in your community who can help you in this transition.
Not eligible yet but will be in the near future? Explore more of our Medicare Resources. We cover everything from Medicare Advantage to Part D Prescription Drug plans and more!