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Access to the program should be automatic if you’re 65 and currently receiving Social Security benefits (or railroad benefits), you should receive a package, with your Medicare card in it, in the mail about 3 months before your coverage begins, but if you are not currently receiving benefits, you will need to actively enroll in Medicare. To actively enroll, you can visit your local Social Security office, call Social Security at 800-772-1213, or apply online at ssa.gov. Railroad retirees should call should contact the Railroad Retirement Commission I (RRB) or contact your local RRB office to register.
If you are eligible, your Medicare enrollment period begins three months before you turn 65 e birthday and ends three months after your 65th birthday. It’s important to note that if you wait too long – the month you turn 65 or the next three months – your Part B enrollment may be delayed. This would require you to pay a late registration penalty.
Medicare Part A
Many people sign up for Part A (hospital) when they are first eligible. If you are still working and have health coverage from your employer, you may be able to delay enrollment without penalty. Part A covers such items as hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, and some home health care services, including palliative care. If you or your spouse have paid Medicare taxes for at least a decade, you generally won’t pay a monthly premium for this coverage. Certain conditions must be met to receive Part A benefits, such as age (65 years and over), citizenship and residence. If you are not eligible for Free Part A, you can purchase it, but you must also sign up for Part B and pay bonuses on both.
Medicare Part B
Part B (medical insurance) covers a range of other services that Part A does not. These include outpatient care, some doctor visits, medical supplies, and preventive care. You will pay the standard premium for Part B each month, and this amount may change each year. It may also depend on whether you signed up when you were first eligible or not. In many cases, if you don’t enroll in Part B at the earliest opportunity, you will incur a late enrollment penalty unless you have credible coverage such as employer insurance. If you are on Social Security benefits, Part B premiums will automatically be deducted from your payment. Otherwise, you will probably have to pay quarterly.
Navigating the details of Medicare plans can be difficult, but Senior Watchdog is here to help get you on the right track.
For more information or for any questions about which options are best for you, visit our website or call us at 815-223-9394.
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