The Three “E’s” of Medicare: Education, Enrollment & Eligibility
As we get older, few of us look forward to those age-defining milestones that seem to mark each significant occasion. The fact that AARP memberships are now widely available at the age of 50 is one example. Just getting that welcome package in the mail can be a wake-up call of sorts—even if it’s not all that welcome in the first place.
Turning 65, on the other hand, is something different. And it’s not to be taken lightly. After all, that’s the age when Medicare becomes a healthcare reality for the first time. If unprepared in advance, the consequences can be costly for those who make mistakes in terms of enrollment deadlines or eligibility requirements.
At Benzer Pharmacy, we routinely encounter far too many people who are eligible to enroll in Medicare, but for one reason or another, haven’t joined the program. Here are several “e-ssentials” you’ll need to know before you begin:
An “Education” In Good Health
For starters, coverage offered through the program is divided up into different parts. Most will sound pretty familiar. *According to information on Medicare.gov (the official U.S. Government Site for Medicare), Medicare Part A is earmarked for acute health events requiring admittance to the hospital, and will also partially cover expenses for skilled nursing, hospice, and in-home healthcare services. Medicare Part B performs much like typical medical insurance, covering doctors’ appointments, medical supplies, and preventative care. Medicare Part C also referred to as “Medicare Advantage” by the editors of Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, is an alternative that provides supplemental medical and prescription drug coverage through private insurance. Similarly, Medicare Part D also helps cover prescription drug costs but requires a monthly premium.
Mind Your “Enrollment” Window – It Matters
The formal enrollment period for Medicare* begins three months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65 and ends three months thereafter. Late enrollment penalties and gaps in coverage may apply for those who don’t act within this seven-month window. In general, even those who hold health coverage are recommended to enroll when they turn 65 in Part A. (Premiums are covered by Medicare taxes paid over working lifetimes.) In regards to Part B, others may choose to delay enrollment. Naturally, it’s a case-by-case scenario, dependent on the type and level of existing coverage.
Automatic “Eligibility” Isn’t Necessarily Automatic
Those who are automatically enrolled can expect to receive their red, white and blue Medicare card by mail approximately three months before they turn 65. To find out if you are “in” or “out,” visit Medicare.gov and enter “How do I get Parts A & B?” in the search field. If necessary, you can also apply directly online at ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/. Additional health insurance counseling is available free-of-charge at www.shiptacenter.org.
Despite the complexity of the process, there is rhyme and reason for applying and becoming part of the program. Your friends at Benzer Pharmacy are here to help you make sense of it all, while hopefully, assisting you in making the right decisions for yourself and your loved ones.
With the will, there’s always a way.
Medicare, Medicare care, Medicare CCM Program, Medicare Part A