If you're already enrolled in Medicare, a window for making changes in your plan opens from October 15 - December 7. Find out your options and also: What you need to know if you're approaching age 65 and aren't enrolled yet.
- by Kristine Gurley, Gurley & Associates
Everyone over age 65 is eligible for Medicare. This includes all U.S. citizens and legal residents who have lived in the U.S. continuously for at least five years. Some people under 65 can get Medicare if they receive Social Security disability benefits.
Medicare is divided into four parts:
Parts C and D are where the private insurance comes in:
How to Sign up for A & B
Parts C and D are not automatic.
If you want Part C (a Medicare Advantage plan that takes care of both A & B through a private insurer), you'll have to contact an insurance company offering it and sign up for Part C through them. Remember, you can get a Medicare Advantage plan that covers prescription drugs (MAPD) or one without (MA).
Or, if you want to stay with Original Medicare and have a standalone Part D (prescription drug plan), you'll need to decide which insurance company's plan you want to go with, and you'll have to proactively enroll.
If you signed up for Parts A and B during your initial enrollment period, and if you think at some point in your life you’ll need prescription drug coverage, you should enroll in Part D at the same time. If you go more than 63 days without "creditable" prescription drug coverage, you will pay a late enrollment penalty when you finally do sign up for Part D.
So, it's better to just go ahead and get your drug coverage from the outset, even if you aren't currently taking any prescription drugs. As mentioned before, you have two options: you can enroll in a standalone prescription drug plan if you have Original Medicare, or you can get your drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan.
I hope this helps clarify some common misconceptions. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions.