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Maximize Medicare: Your Guide to Turning 65+

Turning 65 text over image of family celebrating senior's birthday

Posted on August 4, 2021 by Kyle Walton

Turning 65 means that a few big changes will be coming to your life very soon, specifically as it pertains to employment and healthcare coverage. One of the first things you may want to do upon attaining retirement age is enroll in Medicare, a health insurance coverage program that is managed by the U.S. Federal government.

However, navigating the world of Medicare enrollment can sometimes be a challenge. That’s why MedicareInsurance.com is here to offer you a comprehensive guide to turning 65, and the Medicare enrollment process that comes with it.

Important information about Medicare and turning 65.

As stated, Medicare is a health insurance coverage program that is managed by the U.S. federal government. Though this program is designed to help seniors aged 65 and older pay for their healthcare needs, the program is not entirely without expenses. 

That said, the amount of out-of-pocket costs that you may be asked to pay depend on your exact coverage plan. Let’s discuss a few key pieces of information about enrolling in Medicare for the first time.

When can I first enroll in Medicare?

One becomes eligible to enroll in Medicare as soon as they turn 65. This period is known as the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and is seven months long. The IEP includes the three months prior to your 65th birthday, the entire month of your 65th birthday, and the three months following your 65th birthday. Signing up for Medicare during your IEP will prevent you from accumulating late enrollment penalties.

Can I delay Medicare coverage?

If you or your spouse is eligible to receive Medicare and has worked and paid taxes for at least 10 years, then Medicare Part A may be received premium-free. Many choose not to delay Medicare Part A because it provides hospital coverage at little to no out-of-pocket cost to you, though it may be delayed if you already have other health care coverage that is preferred.

The same is true of Medicare Part B, which provides medical coverage. However, in 2021, Part B premium costs can range from $148.50 to $504.90 per month depending on your income. If you choose to delay Part B, you must qualify for a Special Enrollment Period in order to avoid late enrollment penalties.

Is Medicare coverage a requirement?

Though Medicare coverage is not technically a requirement, failing to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period may result in late enrollment penalties if you decide to enroll later on. For this reason, it can be a good idea to fully consider all your options before choosing to delay Medicare enrollment.

Keep in mind that those born between 1943 and 1960 will not be eligible to receive your full social security benefits until the age of 66  or 67, one to two years after the Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare begins.

Senior couple blows out candles on birthday cake

Can I get additional Medicare coverage beyond Original Medicare Parts A and B?

Though Original Medicare provides vital hospital and medical coverage for thousands of seniors, it does not always cover every healthcare treatment or service. This is where Medicare Part C (also known as a Medicare Advantage plan) may prove useful.

Medicare Advantage plans are also regulated by the U.S. federal government, but individual plans are offered by private insurance companies, meaning their costs and benefits can vary. Medicare Advantage plans must offer all the same benefits as Original Medicare, and they will often offer coverage for additional needs, such as vision, dental, and hearing services.

Furthermore, Original Medicare does not cover the costs of prescription medication. This coverage is provided under Medicare Part D, which can sometimes be included in your Medicare Advantage plan in addition to being offered as a standalone option. Like medicare Part C, Medicare Part D may carry additional out-of-pocket expenses such as premiums, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.

What other benefits might I be eligible for beyond Medicare?

For some, Medicare coverage is not the only option for health insurance after they attain the age of 65. In fact, there exist several other programs that can assist with healthcare coverage expenses, including Medicaid, the Medicare Savings program, Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and Extra Help.

Nevertheless, many of these programs require specific eligibility requirements, such as low-income level, before one is considered eligible to enroll. That said, it can be a smart choice to apply for eligibility even if you do not think you will qualify, since eligibility requirements are always changing. 

In addition, individual states may offer varying programs, benefits, and eligibility requirements. Be sure to check with your State Health Insurance Assistance program (SHIP) office to learn more.

Always plan ahead prior to turning 65.

Turning 65 can be a big deal. This is the time to ensure that you have everything in place, both financially and medically, to enjoy life to its fullest in retirement. Remember that you may be able to receive additional help for your Medicare costs and you can also customize your coverage specifically to your healthcare needs.

Be sure to also effectively plan to afford your cost of living in retirement as well in order to avoid any potential hang-ups as you prepare to enter your golden years.

About the Author

Kyle Walton

Kyle Walton

Kyle is a professional writer with several years of experience helping to inform the public on many diverse topics and industries, including healthcare. He is a Kutztown University graduate, Class of 2017.

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