Turning 65 and Medicare - What You Need to Know

Turning 65 brings some welcome relief for insurance coverage with the help of Medicare. Medicare is a massive healthcare programs that brings insurance relief for millions of older Americans, but qualifying and enrolling in Medicare brings confusion for many people.


Here are answers to some of the most common questions:

When can I enroll in Medicare?

You are able to apply 3 months before you turn 65, even if you’re not yet ready to retire. However, if you have health insurance through your employer, you may wish to wait to enroll in Part B. You may be able to enroll sooner if you are disabled and can qualify.

Many people think that if they start claiming their Social Security benefits at age 62, they can enroll in Medicare at the same time, but that’s not the case. You have to wait until age 65.

How do I enroll in Medicare?

Basically, you enroll for Medicare through the Social Security website.

If you are already claiming Social Security benefits at age 65, you will be enrolled in Medicare automatically, so you don’t have to do anything. Your Medicare card will be mailed to you about three months before your 65th birthday.

If you are not claiming Social Security benefits when you turn 65, then you will need to apply for coverage through the Social Security website here. The process only takes about ten minutes, then you just wait for your card to arrive in the mail. If you don’t already have a Social Security account, you will need to create that first.

What Exactly Does Medicare Cover?

There are 4 parts to Medicare:

  • Part A (Hospital Insurance) - covers hospital stays and some stays in skilled nursing facilities. Most Americans pay no premium for Part A. It has a deductible of $1,364 per benefit period. For hospital stays of over 60 days or skilled nursing stays longer than 20 days, coinsurance is required.

  • Part B (Medical Insurance) - covers doctors' visits, lab tests, outpatient procedures, etc. You must pay a small premium for Part B, and you can opt out if you wish. Standard premium is $135.50/month and goes up to $460.50/month depending on income.

  • Part C (Medicare Advantage) - provides additional Medicare coverage through private insurance companies who are approved by CMS.

  • Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) - provides coverage for prescription drugs. Part D plans are also offered by private insurance companies. Premiums are low - generally about $50/month or less.

I hope this information helps. I will be happy to guide you through the process of answering any of your questions. I have many options available for Part C and Part D coverage, as well as many Medicare supplement choices.

medicare photo by Aaron Fulkerson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0