If you’re approaching the age of 65 but confused about enrolling for Medicare, you’re not alone. Many people find themselves wondering things like “How do I know if I’ll be eligible?” “Will I be notified or do I have to sign up?” and “What’s the difference between Medicare and Medicare Advantage?”
For help navigating the Medicare enrollment process, read over the following best practices. You’ll be fully prepared for Medicare enrollment when the time comes.
- Find out if you’re eligible. You won’t receive any official notice in the mail telling you it’s time to enroll for Medicare. To find out if you’re eligible, visit gov’s Eligibility Calculator* Qualifications for eligibility include appropriate age (65) and whether you or your spouse has worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security. And even if you’re under the age of 65, there are ways to become eligible for Medicare.
- Understand the different plans available. There is a difference between Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Medicare is issued by the government and covers Parts A and B (find out more about the different Medicare parts here). Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is offered by private insurers and tends to have more benefits than Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are popular—around one-third of eligible Americans are enrolled in one—and there are a lot of reasons why.
- Give yourself time to learn about Medicare. Don’t wait until your 65th birthday to educate yourself. Give yourself at least six months to get familiar with Medicare so you feel ready to enroll when the time comes. Use gov* and www.bcbsm.com/medicare/ as resources to learn more about Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. We also hold free seminars year round across the state to help you learn more about your Medicare options.
- Learn how to sign up. You should enroll in Original Medicare when you first become eligible. That period starts three months before you turn 65, includes the month of your birthday, and continues for three months after your birthday month. You should do this even if you are planning on enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan because before signing up for an Advantage plan you have to be enrolled in Original Medicare. Besides the initial enrollment period, you can enroll in Original Medicare at other times throughout the year:
- Annual Enrollment Period: If you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible, you can sign up between October 15th and December 7th each year.
- Special Enrollment Period: If you meet certain requirements, you can apply during a Special Enrollment Period.
Do you have other questions about enrolling in Medicare? Leave them in the comments below.
* Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan does not control this website and is not responsible for its content.
Photo credit: thinkpanama
- Y0074_W_BlgpstAlmostElig CMS Accepted 11242014