The perfect way to celebrate your 65th birthday is to decide to take control of your health and look to the future. Being active, eating a well-balanced diet and working to reduce your stress will help you feel good, enjoy your passions and live life to the fullest. But there’s one more health-related step to take during this milestone birthday: Make sure you have the right insurance to fit your needs. That’s why it’s so important to fully understand Medicare and your coverage.
- Medicare Parts A and B are called Original Medicare and provide coverage for hospitalizations, doctor visits and some preventive services.
- Part C plans, which are also known as Medicare Advantage plans, are offered through private companies, like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network. Medicare Advantage plans cover everything Parts A and B cover, as well as provide extra benefits and limit what you pay out of pocket. Many plans include prescription drug coverage and some plans also offer vision, dental and hearing coverage. Opting for a Medicare Advantage plan offers a more holistic option for your health care coverage and reduces the worry of unexpected costs.
- Medicare Part D, which can be added to your plan, provides prescription drug coverage you can pair with Medicare Parts A and B to give you the coverage you need.
Since you’ll be enrolling in Medicare for the first time, it’s important to choose a plan that is a good fit for you in terms of both coverage and cost.
How do I know if I’m eligible for Medicare?
To qualify for Medicare, you must be at least 65 years old and you or your spouse must have worked long enough to receive social security. You can use this eligibility calculator to find out if you are eligible.
Do I need to be retired?
Even if you or your spouse are still working and have employer-provided health insurance, you are still eligible for Medicare.
How do I know what Medicare plan is right for me?
Before you enroll, do your research to find the right plan for you. For example, if you opt for Original Medicare, you’ll pay 20 percent of the cost for most medical services covered under Part B, in addition to paying the Part B premium. On the other hand, Medicare Advantage plans, like the ones offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network, typically have copays, a fixed cost you pay when you go to the doctor or use specific services, and an out-of-pocket maximum, a cap on how much you’ll pay after you meet the deductibles, which can give you financial security and peace of mind. (Original Medicare does not have a cap on how much you’ll pay out-of-pocket.)
When can I enroll?
Initial enrollment period (IEP) lasts for seven months, with the month of your 65th birthday counting as the fourth month. If you sign up for Medicare within the first three months prior to your birthday, your coverage will being on the first day of your birthday month.
If you’re already receiving Social Security retirement benefits, you’ll be enrolled in Medicare automatically. (You can opt out of Part B if you are currently receiving health care through your employer or your spouse’s.) Otherwise, you need to apply for Medicare during your IEP or SEP by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213.
Even if you plan to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you still need to sign up for Original Medicare, including Part B, as it is a requirement for Medicare Advantage plans. You can apply online or head to your local Social Security office. Once you’ve done that, you can sign up for a Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan online or by talking to an agent at 1-888-563-3307.
If you didn’t sign up for Medicare Advantage when you were first eligible, you can sign up during the annual election period. If you already have Parts A and B, you can sign up during General Enrollment, which takes place between January 1 and March 31. Current beneficiaries can make changes to their plan during Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 through December 7.
This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. [Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/co-insurance] may change on January 1 of each year. Medicare Plus BlueSM, BCN AdvantageSM and Prescription BlueSM are PPO, HMO, HMO-POS and PDP plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in Medicare Plus Blue, BCN Advantage and Prescription Blue depends on contract renewal.
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