Posted By: John Holdorf, Personal Risk Advisor
Normally if you are age 65 and older or have certain disabilities you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, which often is referred to as original Medicare. For most of us Part A which covers hospital visits is no charge but Part B, which covers doctors’ visits, will have a monthly premium and that base premium for 2013 starts at $104.90 a month.
Medicare does not cover everything and you may be responsible to cover some costs but there are options through private insurance companies to help pay for these uncovered expenses. There are Medicare Advantage plans which are also known as Medicare Part C and Medicare Supplements. In addition, to get drug coverage you need to enroll in Medicare Part D which also comes from private insurance companies that are contracted with Medicare.
There a limited times that you can sign up for Medicare coverage, turning age 65, at the loss of employer group coverage, and after a certain period on Social Security disability. There are penalties for late enrollment so make sure you are within the enrollment periods.
Once you are enrolled in a Medicare plan, you do have options to change plans at least once a year, October 15th to December 7th for a January 1st effective date. There are also some Special Election Periods that may occur depending on certain situations.
If you are turning 65 or are over 65 losing group coverage, I would suggest start the Medicare enrollment process three months prior to your effective date. You can check with the local Social Security office or go on line to: socialsecurity.gov, or medicare.gov. Also there may be extra help available to pay prescription drug premiums and costs. Again check with Social Security to see if you would qualify.