Here are a few additional facts that every Baby Boomer needs to know before they turn 65.
Medicare Tips for Baby Boomers
1. Enroll in Medicare as soon as possible. You can contact your local Social Security office for an appointment and sign up while you are there. You may especially want to handle your application this way if you are also applying for your Social Security benefits at the same time. However, another choice is to apply for your Medicare benefits online in about 10 minutes by using the government website at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly. You can complete the application once you are 64 years and 8 months old. You do NOT want to wait until after your 65th birthday.
2. If you are still working when you turn 65, and you are covered by a medical insurance plan through your employer, you still need to file for Medicare Parts A and B, even if you will not be using those benefits for a few years. Again, you need to do this before your 65th birthday, so you can save money on premiums when you do begin to rely on Medicare.
3. Medicare is divided into four parts: Original Parts A and B, which help cover hospital and doctor bills; Part C, which is an extra Medicare Advantage program you purchase to cover some of the expenses not covered by A and B; and Part D, which is drug coverage. When you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, or Part C, those plans usually also include Parts A, B and D so that everything is together in one convenient plan.
4. There are many different Medicare Advantage plans, and most of them will offer informational meetings in your community. However, one of my friends simply called her current doctors and asked them which Advantage programs they liked the best. She found there was one particular plan that kept being mentioned, so that is the Advantage program she chose. You should also know that there are different prices and benefits available for the various plans, too, so shop around. They are all required by law to provide the same benefits as basic Medicare and most of them provide additional benefits and/or lower co-pays and deductibles than basic Medicare.
5. Instead of a Medicare Advantage plan, you may wish to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, instead. In this case, you have both basic Medicare AND an additional insurance policy. The premiums are usually higher than they are for a Medicare Advantage plan, but you may find a plan that will result in zero co-pays and your complete choice of doctors in a PPO plan. This is very appealing to some people who feel it is worth paying extra. However, for many people, a Medicare Advantage plan that includes their favorite doctors is an excellent choice. Go to a few informational meetings and decide which choice is best for you ... a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan.
6. If you believe that you cannot afford your Medicare premiums, ask for help from your local Social Security office or through an insurance consultant with the Affordable Care Act. Low income retirees can qualify for help and I encourage them to take advantage of the assistance programs.
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