For many, approaching age 65 and the thought of slaying Medicare is a lot like wondering when the monster in a B movie is going to rear its ugly head. Will it hurt me? How bad will it be? I’m going to try not to jump out of my chair and embarrass myself.Yep. The most common word used in relation to having to deal with Medicare: Scary.
But just like getting ready to give a public speech – something that evokes a level of fear akin to the thought of death or taxes - the angst can be neutralized with a good resource and a little preparation. Some of the fear comes from not knowing what to expect and can be mitigated with a conversation with the right resource to establish a custom game plan for you. That’s where I come in.
Let’s talk about the basics for a minute and then run through a couple of scenarios. Whether it’s with me or another experienced certified and independent Medicare advisor, reach out to have your expectations managed and relieve any stress you’re having around this important step in your life. Back to the basics…
You are eligible for Medicare when you are a U. S. citizen and have worked at least 40 calendar quarters. Part A entitlement comprises hospital, acute care and related benefits. There is no cost for Part A and it typically will begin on the first day of your 65th birthday month. But that can depend.
Part B covers physician, outpatient surgery, clinical lab work and related services and comes at a monthly cost of $134 per month for every qualified beneficiary unless your income is higher than $85,000, in which case a means test would be done and you’d likely pay a higher monthly premium. These premiums are billed quarterly by Social Security and paid directly to them.
In order to purchase a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan, you must have Parts A and B and continue to pay the monthly premium. Everyone’s situation is a little different. Here are a couple of scenarios that might overlap with yours:
I don’t work and I am taking Social Security. What now?
This is an easy one. Since you are drawing Social Security, you will be on Medicare’s radar and will receive a welcome kit about three months prior to your 65th birthday month. You actually have a seven-month window - three months before to three months after your birthday month - to enroll in Part B and not incur a late penalty. In the kit will be a letter asking you if you want to opt out of Part B. If you do nothing, you’ll receive your red-white-and-blue Medicare ID card in the mail in a few weeks. This will be the key to you enrolling in a Medicare health plan.
I’m turning 65 and am still working and don’t plan to retire quite yet. What do I do?
Your choices: You may take Part A and stay on the group plan. If you don’t, when you retire, Medicare will activate your Part A retro-effective to the first day of the month you turned 65. So when you get ready to retire, simply reach out to Social Security (you can make a phone or in-person appointment to avoid long wait times) and tell them you want to get started with Medicare. You’ll ask to activate your Part B and may choose the date so it dovetails with the end date of your company health plan coverage.
About Karen Hsu & My Benefits Coach International
Karen Hsu, founder of My Benefits Coach International Insurance Solutions is known for
Creating Strategies, Educating Clients, and Inspiring Informed Choices in the healthcare benefits industry. She began her career in the employee benefits space more than 30 years ago. Anyone can be a broker but few people have had the proven results and tenure in the insurance industry to be relied on as a trusted adviser. She prides herself as truly serving as a client centric resource who strategizes benefits for employers, entrepreneurs, & individuals who want to improve and have custom solutions for their benefits, management, education, enrollment and compliance. To learfn how Karen can create a success full strategy for you or your organization, click here.