Signing Up for Medicare

2014 Medicare and Medigap Updates

Signing Up for Medicare

Thinking of signing up for Medicare? There might be a few considerations that you need to keep in mind before you sign up. For instance, while Medicare may cover the essential services, you might want to consider signing up for a Medicare supplement plan to cover any medical services that you may need and are not covered under the original Medicare. Here’s what you need to know when signing up for Medicare.

Medicare is the nation’s health insurer and was designed to help save senior citizens the cost of paying huge health bills for essential services. If you are one of the 78 million baby boomers, then you might want to consider signing up for Medicare as you become eligible. The first of the baby boomers turned 65 in 2011 and 65 is the age requirement for individuals who want to sign up for the Medicare program.

Why should you be signing up for Medicare when you turn 65? Because if you choose to enroll at a later date, you could suffer penalties because of your delayed enrollment. These penalties would also apply to any purchased Medicare supplement plans.

The Medicare program consists of four parts. Part A is related to hospital insurance while part B covers medical fees i.e. physicians’ fees. Part C allows Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in the first two parts to receive their Medicare from various delivery options whereas part D is related to prescription medication. The Medicare supplement plan comes in when some of the medical services you want to be covered are not found in original Medicare. Signing up for Medicare supplement plans will help cover these left-out services.

If you are thinking of signing up for Medicare, then you should know that enrollment begins three months before you turn 65. This enrollment will continue for 3 months after you turn 65. If you have already started receiving your Social Security benefits, then you need not enroll for Medicare. Once you turn 65, you will be automatically enrolled into parts A and B of the Medicare program.

When signing up for Medicare, you need not sign up for part B of the plan right away, especially if you are still covered by your employer’s health plan after you retire. The same also applies if you are working and are covered under union group health insurance. However, this depends on who the primary employer is. Even if you choose not to apply for part B, then you should consider enrolling for part A as this will help pay some of the costs that are not covered under your union/group health insurance plan.

Late enrollment for any Medigap plans (Medicare supplements) may incur a penalty. You may have to pay 10% more in terms of monthly premiums for each year that you chose not to enroll for part B. It should also be noted that Medicare only covers about 80% of your medical bills. It is best to choose a Medicare supplement plan to cater to the rest. Since you are responsible for around 20% of your medical expenses it would be a good idea to carry a supplement if you do not have other coverage.