Enrolling in Medicare: Don’t forget!by Denise Early on Feb. 23, 2010, under Health
You don’t automatically get your Medicare coverage unless you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement payments. I’ve recently talked to four people who did not know they had to sign up for Part B before their 65th birthday. They swear they never received any notification from Medicare or Social Security informing them they needed to apply for Part B. Or perhaps the notice got lost in all the junk mail that looks official but isn’t.
People who started receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits at 62 will receive their Medicare card about three months before their 65th birthday. And the Part B monthly premium ($110.50) will be taken out of their Social Security payment (or Railroad Retirement payment) starting in the month they turn 65.
Everybody else must apply for Part B because Medicare doesn’t assume you want or need Part B.
If you are working and have good health insurance through your employer, you don’t need Part B (and you face no penalty when you enroll later). If you work for a small company with lousy health insurance and a high deductible, it might be worthwhile to compare your Medicare options with your employer’s coverage.
If you want Part B you will need to call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You may be able to apply for Part B over the phone – or you may be told you must go into the local Social Security office to fill out paperwork and show them an original birth certificate.
Medicare Part A covers hospital charges, home health care, hospice, and skilled nursing facility charges.
Part B covers everything else incuding: doctor bills, ambulance, emergency room charges, lab tests.
Part D is drug coverage and is purchased through an insurance company.
If you don’t sign up for Part B before your 65th birthday, you will have a delay in getting your Medicare coverage. If you go three months past your 65th birthday without signing up for Part B, you will pay a late-enrollment penalty and you may have to wait 6 months to a year to get coverage. So mark your calendar to enroll in Part B before the month in which you turn 65!
Once you have your Medicare Part A and B you need to make decisions about your Medicare coverage and your Part D drug coverage. For more information on this, I’ve prepared a video at http://medicarechoicesofarizona.com