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So this is the year I reach age 65 and go on Medicare.  What am I supposed to do now?  Is this an automatic thing that will just happen, or do I need to make all kinds of preparations and plans?  Will my doctor still see me, or do I need to find a new one?  What about prescriptions?  Is Medicare all I will need, or do I need to carry additional coverage?  Do I need to take Medicare Part B?  What are Parts C & D?


Relax and take a deep breath.  Help is here.


If you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare.  You should receive your Medicare card approximately three months before you go on Medicare.  If you don’t want Part B, follow the instructions that come with the card and send it back.


If you are not receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits, you will need to enroll in Medicare on your own.  You may call Social Security (1-800-772-1213).  They will advise you as to what you need to do. Often, they will make an appointment for you to visit the local Social Security office. Or visit the Social Security web site and enroll on-line.  That address is http://www.socialsecurity.gov/.


There are really only two conditions you need to meet to qualify for Medicare benefits:


  1. You must have paid money (taxes) into the Medicare system for at least ten years.
  2. You must be age 65 or older, unless you have a disability or permanent kidney failure.


If you meet the above criteria, you are eligible for both Medicare Parts A & B.  Part A will not cost you anything (the money you have paid into FICA over the years was for this).


Part B, however, is optional and does have a premium.  The cost of Part B is dependent upon your income, but if you made less than $85K ($170K for couples) in 2012 (Medicare looks at your income from 2 year past), the premium will be $104.50.  If you made more than that, refer to the section on Medicare Part B to find out your premium amount.


Almost everyone who is eligible for Part B should enroll.  There are a few exceptions (i.e. either you or your spouse is still working and you have group coverage).  If you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible and change your mind later, you will possibly have a late enrollment penalty.


Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage.  You can learn more about this under Medicare Basics on my web site.  


In short, Medicare Advantage Plans are an alternative to traditional Medicare.  You should make sure you fully understand how they work before you sign up for one.  


If you think a Medicare Advantage Plan is best for you, or if you would like more information, contact me.

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage.  It is also optional, and whether or not you need to participate depends on several factors.


If you already have prescription coverage through a group plan, you probably don’t need Part D as long as you have group coverage.


If you would like help researching which prescription drug plan is best for you, contact me, and I will do the research for you.  There is no charge for me to do this, nor does it obligate you to purchase anything.  However, I will need your zip code, prescription list (including dosages and frequency), a preferred local pharmacy, and either a phone number or email.  I can then email or phone you with the results of the search (or if I have any questions).


If you are a Veteran and are currently receiving your health care through the VA, you might not need to take Part D.  However, if you are not already receiving care from the VA, be aware that you might not be eligible to receive treatment through them.  To find out if you are eligible for VA benefits go to http://www.va.gov/.  You will need to fill out a form and submit it for consideration.


If you intend to enroll in traditional Medicare (meaning you don’t plan to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan), you might want to consider taking a Medicare Supplement Plan.  Just go to Medicare Basics and drop down to Standardized Medicare Supplement Plans.


While the chart does give an explanation of the Standardized Medicare Supplement plans, it does not explain all of the things you need to know when shopping for a Medicare Supplement.  Before purchasing a Medicare Supplement you should obtain a “Guide To Health Insurance For People With Medicare.”  This publication is put out by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and anyone who attempts to sell you a Medicare Supplement must provide you with a copy of the guide.


If you would like a copy, contact me and I will see that you get one.


You should also check with your doctor to see if he will continue to see you once you are on Medicare, or to see if he accepts any Medicare Advantage Plan you might be considering.


Finally, go to https://mymedicare.gov/ and sign up for MyMedicare.gov.  Mymedicare.gov is a secure online service where you can access your personal Medicare information 24 hours a day, every day. Here’s what you can do with MyMedicare.gov:



You can find a plethora of other information about Medicare and your rights options and entitlements from my website http://www.coloradomedicareclassroom.com/.  


If you don’t find an answer to your question, you may contact me and I will try to find the answer for you.


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