If you're 65 or over (or turning 65 in the next 3 months) and not already getting benefits from Social Security, you need to sign up to get Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Part B is optional for Original Medicare; however, it is required when you apply for a Medicare Advantage plan. You can sign up for Medicare online or contact Social Security. Social Security will then review your records to see if you qualify for Medicare.
The Annual Election Period, October 15th to December 7th, is your yearly opportunity to compare your options and choose a Medicare Advantage plan that best meets your needs and budget. To help get you started, here are some things to consider:
— Does the plan offer a $0 monthly premium?
— Are the doctors and specialists that you see included in the plan’s network?
— Does the plan formulary include your prescription drug?
As explained on the Health and Human Services website, generally Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease, or ESRD (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant). Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:
— You are receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
— You are eligible to receive Social Security or Railroad benefits but you have not yet filed for them.
— You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.