It is estimated that roughly 8000 people in the U.S. turn 65 each day. Most citizens and permanent residents of the US are eligible for Medicare part A, Hospital Coverage, at age 65. Yet many remain unsure of the benefits and details of Medicare coverage, and what the procedure is for enrolling. If you or a loved one is turning 65 soon, it’s important to learn what to do for Medicare coverage. Sandy Furuya, Senior Accounting Manager at Wamhoff Financial Planning & Accounting Services, reviews this information.
1. You don’t get Medicare automatically – you must plan to become a Medicare beneficiary:
• Begin reviewing your Medicare options now. Don’t wait until you turn 65.
• Your enrollment period for Medicare includes a seven month window – three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after.
• If you enroll in the months prior to turning 65, you may start receiving benefits on the first day of the first month you turn 65.
• If you miss the seven month enrollment period, you will have to pay higher premiums for Part B.
2. The cost of Medicare:
• Medicare is not completely free.
• Only Medicare Part A, Hospital Insurance, is free.
• Medicare Part B comes with monthly premiums. Part B is the coverage that pays for doctor visits and services, and other medical needs.
• In 2013, the cost for Medicare Part B is $104.90 per month, if you enroll during the seven month enrollment period, for individuals who earn less than $85,000 per year or couples who earn less than $170,000 per year.
• Premiums will be higher for those who miss the enrollment period, and for those who make more than the amounts listed above.
3. What Medicare covers:
• Neither Medicare Part A or Part B provides 100% coverage.
• Part A helps cover inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facilities, hospice and home health care.
• Part B helps cover doctor visits, outpatient care, equipment, home health, and some preventive care.
• Prescription drugs are not covered.
• Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement policies, and prescription drug plans are recommended to help remedy the gaps in coverage.
4. How to apply:
• Apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov. This is the easiest way to apply!
• You may apply in person at your local social security office, but you do not have to apply in person.