Turning 65 This Year? What You Need to Know About Registering for Your Medicare Card
Are you turning age 65 in 2018? Do you know how to go about registering to obtain your Medicare card?
It seems that it would be a simple matter of googling Medicare and then following instructions. But wait! That site leads to a multiple number of choices that are all looking to sell you services from doing the application process for a fee (hidden) to selling you a Medicare Supplement policy.
So, now you are getting frustrated because you have been clicking on all of these different web sites under Medicare and cannot find out how to actually apply for it.
Know the Rules for Registering
I sat down with my wife who is turning 65 in May. Obviously, she does like to do things well in advance, and the rules state that you must register within 90 days of turning age 65, either side of that date.
When you reach the 90-day in advance date, you will get lots of mail. However, it won’t be from the government, but from many insurance companies trying to get you to buy their Medicare supplement policy – which is often referred to as a Medigap policy.
Actually, buying a supplement policy isn’t bad, but it is not what you are trying to do at this time.
How to Register for Medicare Only
Here are the simple steps she took to register for Medicare only, as this is our retirement transition year:
- Once you get to the Social Security Web site, click on Menu at top of the page.
- Under Benefits, click on Medicare.
- Scroll down looking for the tab Apply Medicare Only.
- All you need is your own Social Security number and date of birth.
- Click on Apply and Complete.
- Follow the instructions and you are done! The process should only take you about 10 minutes.
Registering for Part A, B, C and/or D?
The next question that comes up is, are you enrolling in Part A (hospital) only, which is required and does not have a cost. Or are you also going to apply for Part B (medical) with additional cost, Part D (prescription drug coverage) with additional cost or Part C (advantage plans) with additional cost but in place of Part B & D.
If you are fully retired and no longer have group medical benefits, then you need to apply for parts A & B to prevent any future penalties from not enrolling on a timely basis.
If you are still working, or you or your partner have qualified medical coverage where you are covered, you will need to check with the employer to see if they require you to obtain Part A only or both A & B.
I have found that most non-government employer plans (private sector) will require you to obtain both A & B and then they are the secondary health insurance policy. You also need to check to see if the group plan that continues in retirement covers prescription drugs.
Register for Medicare Before 90 Days Past Your Date of Birth
Hopefully, you are not more confused! Remember, the goal is to register for Medicare before the expiration date of 90 days past your date of birth.
If you do choose to have more than Part A, and have not yet begun receiving Social Security retirement benefits, the government will bill you quarterly. The cost is related to the amount of Adjusted Gross Income reported on your previous year tax return.
If you do not have continuing coverage from a group plan when you reach retirement, then you may want to consider buying a Medicare Supplemental policy.
However, these policies will be available to you when you actually retire so you do not need to buy one until your other medical coverage is no longer available.
If you do retire and do not have continuing coverage from your group plan, then absolutely consider buying the supplemental policy as it will pay the majority of the costs that Medicare does not cover.
As always, seek advice from a professional who is familiar with all of the government programs to give you proper guidance.
Are you turning 65 this year and ready to apply for Medicare? Or perhaps you have already done so. Do you think there are any simpler ways to get the application done? Anything to work around? Please share your experiences and tips below!
Stan Corey is a CFP, ChFC and CPWA providing financial life management for more than 36 years. Stan has published a novel, The Divorce Dance, which is a story about a divorcing couple whereby the wife, Natalie, guides the reader though the divorce process and how to have a respectful divorce. Please visit his website.