How To Enroll in Medicare: My Personal Perspective

Medicare is often inevitable for retirees. Unfortunately, it can also be confusing! You may be wondering:

  • When do I enroll?
  • Will I be automatically enrolled?
  • What type of coverage do I receive?
  • What if I need additional coverage? 

You will be endowed with many, many mailings from Medicare providers well in advance of your 65th birthday! Recently I had a close relative enroll in Medicare, and I want to share a few answers to questions I hear regularly based on their experience. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Will You Be Automatically Enrolled?

Some citizens are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. If you’re getting Social Security benefits at least four months prior to turning 65, you’ll automatically receive Part A and B coverage. You can then elect to keep Part B coverage or forego it (and skip the premium). 

When Do You Have To Enroll?

If you aren’t automatically enrolled, which is typical for a retiree who is delaying taking Social Security benefits to maximize their monthly payments, you have to enroll manually. You can enroll manually starting three months prior to your 65th birthday, and up to 3 months after (for a total 7-month window). If you want to have coverage by the month of your birthday, you should sign up early. If you choose to delay, you may have to pay a penalty. 

Also, if you are still employed, under certain conditions you may choose to wait until you retire to take Medicare, or use it and your employer coverage as primary and secondary insurance. When you do retire, you will have a Special Enrollment Period during which you must sign up for Medicare to avoid penalties.

Enrolling in Medicare Supplement, Part D, or Medicare Advantage Plans

The enrollment period is the same if you choose to enroll in a Medicare Supplement, Medicare Part D (drug prescription plan), or Medicare Advantage Plan. So, how do you mitigate confusion in regard to when can (or should) enroll?

Working with a Medicare Expert will help you wade through the myriad of choices and find one that fits your health and financial needs.  Some policies cover co-pays and drug plans vary widely based on the medicines you need.  Medicare Advantage has its benefits as well.  

It pays to work with someone who is well versed in what is available. There is generally a minimal fee if any for this service. The expert will become your agent with Medicare and a good one will stay in touch and advise you each year on changes and choices. It is also important to review your options every year during the open enrollment, as plans and providers change.

For more information about Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans, see my blogs: Medicare Supplement vs. Medicare Advantage: Which One Should I Choose? and   Switching from Medicare Advantage to Medicare Supplement Insurance.

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Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs, and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education, and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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