Medicare is a federal health insurance program that pays for much, but not all, of the medical expenses for people 65 and over. It also covers individuals under 65 with certain disabilities.
The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
Medicare Part A
Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
Medicare Part B
Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
Medicare Part D
Prescription drug coverage
– Original Medicare
– Some Medicare Cost Plans
– Some Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans
– Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans
Medicare Part C
(also known as Part C) is an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare.
These “bundled” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D.
Medicare open enrollment dates
Q: When is Medicare Open Enrollment?
A: The annual Medicare open enrollment period begins on October 15 and ends December 7, 2021. Open enrollment will begin again on October 15, 2022, for coverage changes effective in January 2022.
Not sure what kind of coverage you have?
Check your red, white, and blue Medicare card.
Check all other insurance cards that you use. Call the phone number on the cards to get more information about the coverage.
Check your Medicare health or drug plan enrollment.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m turning 65, and I have researched the Medicare choices in my area. I can’t afford any of them, not even Part B premiums. Where can I get help?
If you qualify, you can receive financial help with Medicare premiums and other costs, like deductibles and copays. Contact Cecilia to find out if you qualify for help.
I plan to retire when I turn 65. I have health care coverage now through my employer. What happens to that when I retire?
It’s important that you understand your choices.
First, find out whether you can keep any of the coverage you have now when you retire. Also find out whether your current coverage can be combined with Original Medicare Parts A and B and what your costs might be if you combined them. If you can keep some of the coverage you have now, you may have more choices than the standard ones.
If you have retiree coverage available to you through your current employer, union or other source (like VA Benefits or TRICARE), talk to your benefits administrator, insurer or plan before making any changes to your coverage. If you drop your current coverage, you may not be able to get it back.
You’ll need to talk with someone who’s familiar with the details of the plan you have now. If your coverage is a benefit from an employer or a union, talk to the human resources or benefits administrator. If you have individual insurance that you’ve been paying for yourself, call your insurance company’s customer service number.
Do I need to sign up for Medicare, or will I be enrolled automatically?
If you signed up for Social Security before age 65 (eligibility for full benefits currently begins at age 66), you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare parts A and B and receive your card three months before your 65th birthday. Part A covers hospitalization and is generally premium-free; Part B covers outpatient care, such as doctors’ visits, x-rays and tests.
I’m still working. Do I need to sign up?
That depends on the size of your company. If you or your spouse (if you’re covered by your spouse’s insurance) is still working for a firm with 20 or more employees, the employer’s insurance is your primary coverage, and Medicare is secondary and can fill any gaps in coverage. You aren’t required to sign up for Medicare at 65, and you won’t have a late-enrollment penalty as long as you sign up within eight months of leaving your job and losing work-based coverage (or losing coverage under your spouse’s insurance).
If you work for a large employer and are happy with its coverage, you may decide to delay signing up for Part B. (Many people still sign up for Medicare Part A at 65.) But the rules are different if you work for a company with fewer than 20 employees. In that case, Medicare generally becomes your primary coverage at age 65, and you need to sign up for Part A and Part B while you’re still working. Some small employers negotiate with insurers to keep employee coverage primary for workers after age 65, but this is unusual; get it in writing from your boss before you delay signing up.
I have retiree health insurance. Do I need to sign up for Medicare at age 65?
Unless you or your spouse is still working and has current employer coverage, you should sign up for both Medicare Part A and Part B at 65. Retiree coverage can fill gaps in Medicare (which would otherwise require medigap and Part D policies or a Medicare Advantage plan), but it’s secondary to Medicare after age 65, and it may not kick in at all if you don’t sign up for Medicare. Federal retiree coverage is an exception; it remains your primary coverage if you don’t sign up for Medicare, but you will pay a penalty if you decide to sign up for Part B later.