Starting Medicare: 5 Common Questions

Starting Medicare coverage won’t be confusing if you are fully informed and can easily find the answers to all of your questions. Before you become eligible for Medicare, educate yourself on how the system works, how you will apply and who to talk to if you face any issues. To begin, here are five common questions many adults have when starting Medicare:

1.    When Am I Eligible for Medicare?

You become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 years old. You must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident who has lived in the U.S. for at least five years. You must have worked for at least 10 years in a Medicare-covered job.

Individuals without the required employment time or permanent resident aliens are eligible for coverage, but they will have to pay for all aspects of coverage. If you are under age 65 but you have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or have received Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) for 24 months, or received SSDI for one month after an ALS diagnosis, you are eligible for Medicare.

2.    Am I Enrolled Automatically?

If you are already collecting Social Security benefits when you turn age 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B. If you are not collecting Social Security benefits, you have to enroll in Medicare through the Social Security office, which can be completed online, in person or over the phone. You must also always specifically enroll in Parts C or D, if you choose to do so.

3.    What Do the Different Parts Mean?

Before starting Medicare, it’s vital to know the details of each coverage portion so you can make an educated decision about which options you need.

•    Part A pays for hospital bills, hospice and skilled nursing care. If you have the required 10 years of Medicare-covered work time, the premiums have already been paid for in advance.
•    Part B pays for regular doctor visits, outpatient services and many services offered by traditional healthcare insurance plans. You will pay a monthly premium for coverage.
•    Part C is also called Medicare Advantage. It replaces Parts A and B and is typically more expensive, but the available plans cover a more extensive range of services.
•    Part D helps lower the cost of prescription drugs.

You can also “fill in the gaps” in Medicare coverage by purchasing Medigap supplemental insurance from private companies.

4.    How Do I Pay the Premiums?

You can choose to send a check directly to the Social Security office or you can have payment deducted from your monthly Social Security benefits check. If you have low income, you can qualify for financial assistance to help pay your premiums.

5.    Who Can I Call for Answers?

You can contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE, or you can get in touch with My Senior Health Plan. The team is fully informed about all Medicare coverages and can help you find and enroll in a plan that meets your needs. My Senior Health Plan can also help you understand how supplemental insurance can ease your worries and potentially save you money over time. Call 1-877-255-6273 for your free consultation today.